I trying out a new review style for Volta; track by track. This is the perfect album to do something like this with, considering how different each track is. So, with no further ado, my track by track review of Volta.
01. Earth Intruders
One of my least favorite tracks. It’s easy to dance to, but there’s just a little too much going on in it. You’d think a Björk/Timbaland collaboration would be brilliant, but they end up crowding each other. I suppose that’s just the ‘two chefs’ logic at work. Considering how great Björk’s singles usually are, this a disappointment.
A classic Björk track. The vocals have adequate space to grow, and they do just that. After Medulla, it’s great to hear the brass back in full effect. The best part, however, are the lyrics, in which Björk sings about her insatiable thirst for something new. This is most epic song on the album, much more so than than the seven-minute behemoth that follows it.
03. The Dull Flame Of Desire
It starts out well, and for a moment you think this could become a classic Björk love song. Then Antony kicks in, and you think, “okay, so it’s going to be mediocre”. Around the four minute mark, you start wondering when it’s going to end. It has very little to say for such a long song.
04. Innocence (mp3)
The second Timbaland collaboration, thankfully, turns out much better than the first. You can hear Timbaland’s beats clearly, but they’ve been toyed with to suit Björk. It works well with her vocals, and makes for one of the better straight dance songs Björk has done in a while. I don’t really understand why this wasn’t the first single.
05. I See Who You Are
This is a little like ‘The Dull Flame . . .’, but without Antony, and less boring. The strings here are beautiful, and the lyrics excellent. The slow, heavy beat is a nice retreat after ‘Innocence’. A good track, but the alternative mix you get with an iTunes purchase is better.
06. Vertebrae By Vertebrae
My second favorite track. On full volume, the brass here will tear tight through you. It’s the first track that features Björk’s guttural shouts, which should send chills up your spine. The lyrics are a little odd, but once you learn what they’re about, the song becomes downright chilling.
This one took me a little while to get. At first I thought it was boring, but after a few listens, I started to like it. It’s by far the slowest, gentlest song on the album. Once again, the brass is excellent, as is the soothing trickle of water in the background. Very beautiful.
What you’ve heard about this track isn’t entirely true. While the lyrics aren’t necessarily bad, they don’t really make a lot of sense, either. If you don’t pay attention to what she’s saying, however, Björk sounds quite nice here. The strings and percussion are also top-notch.
09. Declare Independence (mp3)
Do I even have to say anything about this track? You’ve seen it in videos, and probably heard it live. It’s the obvious masterpiece, with its slow build of noise and cacophonous beat. Not only is this the best track on the album, it’s one of the best tracks Björk has ever done. Pure brilliance.
10. My Juvenile
Maybe it’s just because this comes after ‘Declare Independence’, but this track feels completely unnecessary. It’s the second Antony collaboration, and he sounds even worse after so long without him. This track should have been left of, or at least placed earlier in the album. Its placement makes no sense.
One of the first things that strikes you about Bloc Party’s A Weekend In The City upon your first listen is the change in tone from Silent Alarm. Where Silent Alarm was brash and aggressive art-punk, A Weekend In The City is introverted and quietly angry pop. While there are a few tracks that are reminiscent of Silent Alarm (The Prayer, Hunting For Witches), A Weekend In The City presents, for the most part, a barely recognizable Bloc Party.
However, the result is an album far deeper than their debut, though not as immediately catchy. The themes are dark, such as depression, racism, suicide, homosexuality, terrorism, and government propaganda. Such a dark album will surely shock those waiting for Silent Alarm 2. Fans will grapple with this album. In the end, A Weekend In The City trumps it’s predecessor, particularly in intelligence, though it remains to be seen whether or not it will be accepted for what it is.
Some Loud Thunder
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Everyone knows the story of the original Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album. Five kids from Brooklyn and Philly come together to make their own album, release it without a record label, and go on to become one of the most popular indie acts of 2005. However, just like most indie acts that become popular, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was better suited to obscurity, to an existence without expectations. That’s not to say that CLHSY‘s debut didn’t deserve the attention it garnered; it most certainly did.
However, with that attention came astronomical expectations, that no band could ever hope of meeting. And of course, CLHSY tried to meet those expectations. The result is a hopelessly uneven album. Some Loud Thunder is home to some truly great songs, some middling ones, and a few atrocious ones. There’s little continuity between songs, and the whole album feels like it’s about to be torn apart by the distance between neighboring songs.
Listening to Some Loud Thunder is a great experience, but at the same time, an excruciating one. The good songs are just too good to be broken up by the bad ones, which seem to meander on forever, without reaching any real conclusion. They just end, and another track begins, completely unaffected by what preceded it. There’s no cohesion, no reason to listen to the album as a whole.
The skip button is your friend here. Still, I can’t hate this album; the band clearly loves, and more importantly, respects music. They fall victim to the sophomore curse, but only because of their debut success. Ironic, huh? I had high expectations for this album; we all did. Which is exactly why it falls flat on it’s face.
Songs To Download:
Emily Jean Stock
Mama, Won’t You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning
Yankee Go Home
Well, the beginning-of-the-year drought is finally over, and there are several big-name releases coming out today. Among them are:
Wincing The Night Away
After a few years of silence from the Shins, they have finally released their third album, Wincing The Night Away. Once again the Shins move into new musical territory, with songs bearing little resemblance to either of the bands earlier albums. However, it’s also their most mature record, even more subtle than even Oh, Inverted World, and seemingly more subdued. It takes longer to fall in love with Wincing The Night Away than the Shins previous work, but in the end, it’s the Shins best album to date.
The Good, The Bad, The Queen
The Good, The Bad, The Queen
Considering the major players involved in this album (Damon Albarn,Danger Mouse, Paul Simonon, Tony Allen, Simon Tong), The Good, The Bad, The Queen comes off as very, very low-key. This isn’t the album that you’ll love the minute you play it. It’s dark, moody, complex, and demanding. But even if you have patience with it, you never quite feel as rewarded as you would like.
Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
This concept album from of Montreal certainly contains it’s share of oddities. The lyrics, the title and the tracks are all unique. But the sound is by far the strangest part of this album. It’s that certain mix of genres that defies any real description, and can only be described as indie pop. Each song is different from the one before it, and the albums hangs together very well as a whole. A great indie release.
I’ve been listening to Gruff Rhys’ new album, Candylion, for a few days now. So how is it? Not bad at all. The songs are original, and Rhys’ voice is as smooth as ever. The lyrics range from deep and meaningful (Skylor) to light and fluffy (Candylion), but each track generally hits its mark, with only a few missteps, like Cycle of Violence, which far too similar to the track that precedes it. Although Rhys only whips out his story-telling skills a few times, each story is entertaining. In particular, the 14-minute long Skylor! tells a great story, while still maintaining it’s musical oomph.
However, the album as a whole suffers from one major flaw; while the tracks are (mostly) all different from one another, each still feels like it could put you to sleep. I’m okay with a few tracks like that, as long as there’s something to wake me, here there isn’t. Even Skylor!, which focuses around a bomb on a plane, is pretty mellow. Overall, this is a pretty decent album, that suffers from a general lack of excitement.
Tracks To Download:
Beacon In The Darkness