Date Released: October 24, 2011
Album Genre: Electronic Rock, House
Album Rating: 7/10
I have to get this off my chest before I start, if you liked anything about the hits from Justice‘s debut album then you’ve got another thing coming. That especially goes for those of you who only listened to Cross for the electro-pop tracks D.A.N.C.E., DVNO, or Tthhee Ppaarrttyy or the harsh electro tracks Genesis, Phantom, Stress or Waters of Nazareth. Did I just name off all the tracks from the first album? Pretty much! This album is more like Audio, Video, Disco, not enough Electro, but to be honest when has Justice ever described themselves as solely electro? We just assumed it as they were riding the French House movement and are signed with Ed Banger who seems to be the principal French label for releasing electronic-house music internationally, but looking at it now I feel this album is more true to Justice than the last one ever was. If you’ve ever heard any of Justice’s mixes, I’m talking about their famous Fabric Rejected Mix, or gone to their off-tour shows where half the people asked “wait, aren’t they going to play D.A.N.C.E.? What is this stuff they’re play now?!”, then you’d understand that they’ve always been this.
The album starts off with Horsepower and Civilization, which you assume is the direction they’re starting to take with all this talk about the album being so different. It is in a sense still similar to some of the harsher sounding electro tracks from their first album, which I actually think sounds great. Little do you know they’re only easing you into how much they’ve changed as you come across Ohio and Canon, which I had to double check that my iTunes wasn’t on shuffle and that I was listening to a Pink Floyd track I had never heard before. I actually had to triple check, so now we hit the 80’s progressive rock section. The tracks are awesome, but sadly I have a feeling they will be criticized for not being “Justice” enough, in other words no one is playing these tracks in clubs. Then we come across the synth rock section with On’n’On, Brainvision, Parade, and Newlands. They’re definitely tracks I’d prefer to chill out or work out to than rock out to in a club. And ending off with one of the better tracks in the album, Helix which actually sounds like Justice and Daft Punk had a child, an awesome child. It’s the only track from this album I’d consider truly electro, it also sounds like it should be in the opening cinematic of a Halo game. The last track to end off the album is Audio, Video, Disco which I have to admit I wasn’t very impressed with when I first heard it. It lacked a lot of what I liked about Justice but it totally grew on me since first listening to it.
Favorite tracks would have to be Horsepower, Civilization, Parade, and Helix, which all seem to be the harder sounding tracks of the album. I’ve never really liked the soft ballad sounding songs in any music so it’s not that the other tracks are bad, just my taste in music. I’ll have to finish this review off by saying you shouldn’t listen to this album expecting the Justice you’ve heard before. Walk in with a blank slate and you’ll enjoy it a lot, the album is solid once you do that. Or maybe you’ll hate it!
Justice – Horsepower
Justice – Helix
It’s not surprising that you’ll find lovers and haters for MGMT‘s sophomore album Congratulations. MGMT made it a point to stray away from the hits of their last album Kids, Time to Pretend, and Electric Feel stating in their interview with NME, “We’ve been talking about ways to make sure people hear the album as an album in order and not just figure out what are the best three tracks, download those and not listen to the rest of it.” They definitely succeeded in that aspect, there weren’t any singles in this album. For a lot of people, those were the three songs they loved and MGMT definitely took notice of that. Unfortunately, taking away the staple styles of your fans’ favorite tracks has a dangerous risk; they might not like your music anymore. Essentially, this album is the middle finger to the fans who wanted more of Kids.
For those of you who enjoyed the second part of Ocular Spectacular, maybe specifically 4th Dimensional Transition, this is the album for you. The album isn’t terrible, actually it’s far from despite what others say, but it isn’t very spectacular either. It has an overall tone of strangeness masked in psychedelic rock and ambiance vocals with little diversity between tracks, although they did include various genres like the Beach Boys surf rock, the “Magical Mystery Tour” or psychedelic era of The Beatles and the Flaming Lips which they only touched on in Ocular Spectacular. The problem with avoiding singles is that your album will be like driving through the prairies, it’s fun for a bit but it gets boring pretty quick. I made it a point not to post a premature review of this album, having listened to it on and off over the last month since they released it on their website. At first I was simply surprised as to how different the album was and how impartial I was to it. Unfortunately the album didn’t grow on me as much as I’d hoped, it’s not one I would put on a top 10 list of 2010 which is a swift change from my 2008 list.
The album starts off with It’s Working sounding something like the Beach Boys surf rock meets shoegazing, an interesting start as it is somewhat of a the new sound coming from MGMT, if not new, it’s refined at least. I actually enjoyed this track but it felt disjointed from the rest of the album. They had fun making Song For Dan Treacy, I could tell, but I wasn’t amused. Like an inside joke I’m neither indie or old enough to understand, I’ve never even heard of Television Personalities before and my bets on you didn’t either before you heard this song. The track sounding like what The Count’s theme song actually should have been, rather than the Eastern European sounding song he always has; it’s just not for me. I was quite torn about Something’s Missing because I liked the track, the last forty seconds of it. If the whole song was that I definitely would’ve placed it as one of my favorites from the album which unfortunately isn’t the case. Flash Delirium is one of the stranger ones from this album, it actually sounded like a sing-along from Sesame Street with the strange background group vocals, I can even see the puppets in my head dancing along. Were they watching Sesame Street when they made this album? I wasn’t the first one to noticed this either.
Another mellow track I Found A Whistle, I’m not the biggest fan of these kind of tracks from any artist, so I won’t go on about this track. The 12 minute Siberian Breaks probably could have been separated into four tracks. It’s almost as bad as the ever-so-popular in the 90’s five minutes of silence on the last track before a hidden track comes up. The ballade starts and ends a couple times, I enjoyed day dreaming while I listened to it. I’m not particularly sure if that’s a good thing or not, but there is a nice buildup in the third part of this track at around eight minutes until the end of the track which might actually be the peak of the whole album. Take note, I actually really loved this! Brian Eno was Flash Delirium Pt. 2, they should have put the two tracks one after each other or would have that been way too cliché? The fully instrumental track Lady Dada’s Nightmare was another inside joke I don’t think I understood. Yes, Lady Gaga’s nightmare of soft keyboard and melodies like something from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon? I think I thought too much about that. And lastly, Congratulations was a track I actually really liked. Slow normal guitars with clear voices and a touch of original MGMT, after an album of psychedelic synth filled tracks with inaudible vocals, it’s just what I needed.
As much trash talk as I and many others did on this album, I have to say that MGMT is brave for going their own way. Despite the fact that they gave the cold shoulder to the majority of their fans, they need to explore styles to figure out their own unique one and if that means losing fans who only liked them because of Kids, then so be it. The only thing I hope MGMT does is further develop their style and not simply fall back to Kids, that would ultimately be the worst thing to do. To sum up Congratulations, it’s strange and different, but there’s nothing that will throw you off your seat like their first album. I’m still looking forward to album #3.
MGMT – Siberian Breaks
MGMT – Congratulations
I have to stop thinking of Calvin Harris as purely an electro-pop artist and more as a growing music producer. I was expecting something along the same vein as his first album, but this album felt much slower. I was both pleasantly surprised and slightly disappointed, disappointed only because I my expectations were different which is my own damn fault. It seemed like he was exploring different sounds and genres, becoming more mature in a sense. This was especially the case with some of the tracks like Worst Day, Ready For The Weekend, and Relax. There were some tracks that lingered to the style in his previous album, such as I’m Not Alone, which I’m sure you’ve heard on the radio as well as The Rain, and Flashback. Strangely, one of my favorite tracks Dance Wiv Me seemed like a bigger change for Dizzee Rascal than Calvin Harris. Just a heads up not to expect the old Calvin Harris.
Calvin Harris – The Rain
Calvin Harris – Flashback
Date Released: June 12, 2009
Album Genre: Electro, Techno
Album Rating: 7/10
Sounds Like: Bag Raiders, Muscles, MSTRKRFT
This is a remix album by Van She Technologic, an offshoot of the original band Van She, of tracks from their debut album V. What can I say? We’ve been waiting for this. I remember when I first found out about Van She Tech, I was so excited that I bought V only to find out that they didn’t really have an electronic past. So this is quite refreshing from what I thought I was getting the first time. Not to mention that the naming is almost as confusing as Soulwax’s ensemble of different names they use. I enjoyed this remix album, it had various feels of the electro genre. Obviously heard some Aussie electro in here, but I also recognized something almost like French house with the track It Could Be The Same and like MSTRKRFT in Techno Music. The last track Virgin Suicide being very Shoegaze. Loved the contrast from this album, usually whenever I listen to a synth-based album or artist, it tends to sound relatively the same.
Van She – It Could Be The Same (Van She Tech Remix)
Van She – Sexual City (Van She Tech Remix)
Amazon | AmazonMP3 | iTunes
Date Released: April 7, 2008
Album Genre: Indie Rock, Rock, New Wave
Album Rating: 7/10*
Sounds Like: Stars, Land of Talk, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It’s really hard being a big Metric fan and rating their fourth album on a clean slate. It’s impossible not to compare this album to their first three albums. I know it’s taboo when looking at new albums from an artist, maybe if I just got into Metric now I could do the deed. It has been four years since their last studio album and there hasn’t been much of a change from Metric. In a way it’s bittersweet because I absolutely love the indie new wave sound which came out of Live It Out and their previous albums, but I was expecting to be blown away. So basically I’m saying Metric shouldn’t change but they should change, how could I be any clearer? They took advantage of the synthpop sound a bit more in this album which by no means is new to Metric. To anyone who said that the synth-electronic sound was “new” in this album obviously hasn’t really listened to their other albums. Stop comparing Metric to YYYs. Metric can do two things amazingly well; they can pull off both fast and slow tracks, and they can really put variety into an album. There’s been so many times I’ve listened to an album and I completely hate the slow tracks or the whole album sounds the same. This is the main reason I don’t think Metric can ever make a bad album.
It’s too early to tell if there will be any hits that will stick like Monster Hospital or Dead Disco, although I think I can hear it from some of the tracks. I’ve learned my lesson with bands and albums like this, you can’t really tell right away. It’s like wine, it’s an acquired taste. Three tracks caught my attention right away; Help I’m Alive, Gimme Sympathy, and Blindness. Help I’m Alive is a great introduction to the album, gets you pumped up at least lyrically. It’s quite the change from Empty in Live It Out. At least sound-wise, I really liked Gimme Sympathy. Internal dialogue in Haines’ head? She did mention my favorite Beatles song though. And one of the darker songs in the album, Blindness. Stadium Love was too much of a crowd participation track, it’s like they were reaching a little too hard with that one. I felt Satellite Mind, Sick Muse, Gold Guns Girls were the lower points of this album, I felt like they just weren’t being themselves with these tracks. Twilight Galaxy is such a good track, but it’s so much better acoustic, you can watch it here. Haines’ voice just goes up a level when its with acoustic, from it’s already high caliber status.
Metric – Help I’m Alive
Metric – Gimme Sympathy
Date Released: April 11, 2008
Album Genre: Indie, Indie Rock, Alternative
Album Rating: 7/10
Sounds Like: The Unicorns, Wolf Parade
The Islands, a Canadian indie band from Montreal instantly caught my attention when I initially heard them. Actually, the first time I heard them they were The Unicorns and their debut album as the Islands was basically a fourth album to The Unicorns. This album has a completely different feel from their past style, almost a more refined and studio produced guitar rock sound. But it still includes the “jam session” feel they always had, so they haven’t lost themselves. Similar to how I felt with The Strokes third album First Impressions of Earth, I really had to get used to this album. At first I can’t say I liked it much but I really grew to love it. So give it a chance.
Their signature song to their new style I guess, The Arm was a good start to the album. Instantly you can hear it’s more refined and concentrated on a more guitar rock style, but part way through the song you’ll still hear remnants of their old style. It sounds like it should be part of the soundtrack of a modern Western. A similar sound with J’aime Vous Voire Quitter though swaying towards indie pop. I actually didn’t mind the slower songs in this album like Pieces of You, Creeper, and Kids Don’t Know Shit, which is quite a surprise. Mostly because they weren’t plainly slow, but had variety within the track. The next few songs after number eight took a very different turn in style. I felt In the Rushes was quite the unique song, I’m not sure if it was the violin plucking or completely different sound and rhythm, but I really liked it. We Swim completely reminded me of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. It really doesn’t sound like it at all, but I constantly hear it when I listen to this song. The last three songs sound almost like they were recorded during a jam session, not that I’d call them disorganized, but it’s a nice slow end to the album.
Islands – The Arm
Islands – In The Rushes
I mentioned before I’d post more of Walter Meego. Not a single person, this duo consists of Justin Sconza the vocals/guitar and Colin Yarck, where both of them do keyboards. Well, this album has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and completely by preference. There were some songs I couldn’t get enough of, then there were others which I skipped over. That is the main reason this album got a ‘7’ and I think if you like soft synthpop, you’d probably give this an album an eight instead. There were two types of songs; the fast paced very electro songs and then the slow pop songs. I guess they were really going for variety in this album, being their first true debut album, it was probably a good idea to test the water.
Forever is probably one of my favorite songs from this album, the first I heard from Walter Meego. It’s got the right mix of electro and pop. I loved Girls, something about how this song was made. Even before I listened to this song, I could sing along to it. If anything, it was a very natural song as synth as it was. I had this song stuck in my head the whole day, one of their catchier songs for sure. Somewhat similar to the two songs, Wanna Be a Star took a similar approach except it’s almost completely pop. As the album goes on, it changes a bit, somewhat more towards electro and also slow tempo pop songs. Lost is an instrumental track that I really liked, a sign that this album was taking a different turn. Letting Go reminds me of Chromeo. Out of all the slow songs which I mostly gave 2-3, Baby Please is the only one I liked. It’s only slow for a bit as well. I included Girls and Wanna Be a Star for you to get a taste of Walter Meego. My favorite song Forever has already been posted in a previous post. Overall the album was enjoyable, it could have done without the slow tracks.
Walter Meego – Girls
Walter Meego – Wanna Be a Star