Friday, January 22, 2010

The Jukebox (IV)

album reviews

Adam Lambert’s flamboyance remains in check, Weezer add another CD to the redundant rack, and Puddle of Mudd return with more of the same.

Adam Lambert
For Your Entertainment
Adam Lambert was probably the most entertaining and consistent singer on the latest edition of American Idol. Throughout the season, Adam’s glam rock persona and vocals received much attention and earned him the title of Glambert – he knew what he was all about, and so did we. But on his debut album, the singer’s identity seems muffled. For Your Entertainment sees Adam going for a dance pop sound that’s more Scissor Sisters than Queen, and once you get past the hideous cover art, you’ll find a compilation of songs written and produced by the who’s who of the pop music world; Max Martin, Linda Perry, P!nk, Ryan Tedder, Greg Wells, Lady Gaga, Rivers Cuomo and even Matthew Bellamy have contributed songs to the record… and that, in essence, is what’s wrong with the album – it seems to be the sum of the contributions of other musicians that in no way showcases who Adam Lambert really is. Soaked would be at home on a Muse album, Music Again sounds like The Darkness, Pick U Up would’ve fit on a Weezer set. For the most part, the songs aren’t bad; it’s just that they seem like they’re outtakes from the writers’ own albums and don’t have much to do with Adam Lambert. The fault is not with his singing ability; next time he just needs to pick (or, better still, write) songs that depict his personality and reflect who he really wants to be as a musician.
Highlights: Music Again, Soaked, If I Had You

The Avett Brothers
I and Love and You
Led by Seth and Scott Avett, folk-rock group The Avett Brothers have been delivering genre-blending masterpieces for a decade. Their latest effort, I and Love and You, is a pop-rock blend of folk and bluegrass, offering beautiful melodies and heartfelt sentiments delivered by way of poetic lyrics. Accompanied by the 13 chapter video series, the band has put together a seamless set of memorable tunes that effortlessly puts forth the underlying emotions while providing a brilliant showcase to the song-writing. The sound may be more polished than their previous albums, but I and Love and You is still easily one of the best albums of 2009.
Highlights: I and Love and You, The Perfect Space, Kick Drum Heart

Kris Allen
Kris Allen
The latest winner of American Idol was the picture perfect underdog who was as likeable as he was harmless. His first album since being crowed the champion is an extension of his Idol performance and is exactly what one would expect; the singer sticks to the niche he carved during his AI tenure, and produces an album that is melodic and pleasant but, at the same time, safe and predictable. To his credit though, Kris shares writing credits on 9 of the 13 tracks on the CD and his vocals add sincerity to the words, and yes, Kris shines on songs like the cover of The Script’s Live Like We’re Dying, but the album eventually falls into the abyss of monotony. Still, unlike Adam’s record, this album has an identity; it might not be a very interesting identity, but it has one nonetheless. The record just needed a little more of songs like the toe-tapping Alright With Me and a lot less filler so that the singer could’ve come up with a set that would’ve been more original and memorable.
Highlights: Live Like We’re Dying, Before We Come Undone, Alright With Me

Puddle of Mudd
Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate
By the end of the ‘90s, the music world was overflowing with Nirvana clones, shamelessly stealing from Kurt Cobain’s recycle bin to end up atop the modern rock charts. Fast forward a decade and you’ll notice that most of these bands have now faded away, or, even worse, have started sounding like Nickelback. One of the few survivors in the post-grunge genre is Puddle of Mudd, a band that undoubtedly has a very derivative sound, but can still pull it off due to their ability to come up with catchy riffs and solid rock songs. With Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate the group sticks to what they know best. Yes it is more of the same, but for post-grunge fans, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. PoM’s rock ability must be obvious to those who remember Come Clean, and while Volume 4 doesn’t equal the strength of their debut (largely because it’s weighted down by utterly juvenile lyrics), this album still hosts some potential winners and is quite worth a listen.
Highlights: Stoned, Keep It Together, Spaceship

Fifteen years after they first appeared on the music landscape, Weezer have gone from being the beloved suppliers of geek rock to makers of unremarkable throwaway electro-pop. Their latest release, Raditude, not only lacks the confessional charm of their earlier work but also features some of their least memorable work to date. The band tries to go for contemporary with the song Can’t Stop Partying which features rapper Lil Wayne, and one would guess they were going for cool with the sitar-driven Love Is The Answer, but both these songs are so unconvincing that it makes one wonder what Weezer is still doing here, and it feels like that’s what the band was wondering too when they made this album. But the saddest thing is that we know this band is capable of so much more; we have their earlier catalogue as proof. For now, Weezer fans, prepare to be disappointed. Everyone else, check out one of their previous albums instead.
Highlights: Trippin’ Down The Freeway, I Don’t Want To Let You Go

- By Sameen Amer

Ink Quarterly - Jan-Mar, 2010

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