Monday, December 30, 2013

Albums 4 - 7

7 - AM, Arctic Monkeys ~ For those who like good old fashion rock and roll, this would be the album to buy.  The album begins with the Queen styled anthem "Do I Wanna Know", then keeps up the pace through the first 4 songs.  All of them just scream sex appeal!  Only as the middle slows down does the album suffer enough to keep it out of my top spots.  After that pause, it gets going again with "Fireside", "Why'd You Only Call me When Your High" and "Knee Socks".  The final number is an odd one, either love it or hate it apparently.  It seems stupid to me, but I've read reviews that list it as the best song of the year...go figure!

6 - Electric, Pet Shop Boys ~ To say that the Pet Shop Boys are "back" would imply that they went somewhere.  Well, they really didn't in my world.  But, the last several albums have been more sombre affairs with various music styles that were not intended for the dance floor.  No more!  From the "electric energy" through the pulsing Russian of "Bolshy", it is obvious that this album is meant to be on par with their greatest works.  The clever, literary themes of "Love is a Bourgeios Construct" make it an instant classic of "me think he doth protest too much" swirl.  Jump from that highlight straight into a 2am gay club and never miss a beat.  They play around with the synths, and throw us a Springsteen cover before sliding right back to their signature sound (even repeating specific cadences from their first album).  "Vocal" ends the ride with a song that is actually about me and my love of music.  (Stay tuned for the singles of the year for more glowing reviews!)

5 - ...Like Clockwork, Queens of the Stone Age ~ Mix sexy with blues and bravado, and you have the essence of QOTSA.   Add Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor and Sir Elton John and something really good happens.  For such a high powered band, the album actually starts slowly almost like a New Orleans style grind.  The guitar work through is incredibly wild, yet somehow always reconciles to the theme.  It doesn't take long to be blaring the car stereo and driving 110 MPH.  "If I Had A Tail" and "My God is the Sun" make me feel like a rock god (in my own little world).  Elton John adds banging piano and backing vocal to "Fairweather Friends", and he reminded us that what this band needed was a real "queen".  Josh is his most sexy on "Smooth Sailing", then the final songs wind down with an epic feel.

4 - Pedestrian Verse, Frightened Rabbit ~ First off, I have a bias toward existential musings and British (or in this case Scottish) pop music.  Universal themes of loneliness, family secrets, religiosity, hypocrisy, redemption and cultural melancholy permeate the songs.  The almost folksy delivery along with minor key hooks create a gothic picture of a cold, dismal northern land full of people with pain, yet there is always a sense of joy and hope.  Nowhere is this captured more brilliantly than "State Hospital", a sweeping tale of an ordinary life.  For some lyrical introduction, I'll simply give you the opening song "Acts of Man"...

I am that dickhead in the kitchen

Giving wine to your best girl's glass
I am the amateur pornographer
Unpleasant publisher by hand

I see the stumbling pinstriped trouser
Flecks of sick on an office shoe
Part of the fatty British average
Who lives in the houses around you

Not here, not here, heroic acts of man

Let's all crowd 'round the cowering body
Throw stocky fingers, bricks and stones
Let's promise every girl we marry
We'll always love them when we probably won't
While the knight in shitty armour
Rips the drunk out of her dress
One man tears into another
Hides a coward's heart in a lion's chest
Man, he breeds although he shouldn't
He's breeding just because he comes
Acts the father for a minute
Till the worst instincts return

Not here, not here, heroic acts of man

I have never wanted more, to be your man
And build a house around you
I am just like all the rest of them
Sorry, selfish, trying to improve

I'm here, I'm here, not heroic but I try