bride of more albums
Daft Punk, Human After All - Discovery is one of the best albums ever. Whenever I hear it I become a cracked-out bundle of happiness, grinning uncontrollably, bobbing my head, and generally alarming my roommates, accustomed to seeing me only at my surliest. That said, I wasn't expecting too much from this album: part of me anticipated more of the Second Coming, but I'm also not too sold on the duo's first album, 1996's Homework, a pleasant but - to these generally non-dance-music/electronica-specializing ears - not particularly interesting disk of minimal variations of loops. And so I can't get too worked up about Human After All, which I find similarly non-offensive, non-interesting, and totally adequate background music. There's no giddy charge in either album for me, though Homework is obviously the lighter-touch album, with Human piling on the pounding riffs with a brutal intolerance for subtlety. But it's, you know, OK.
But yeah, I liked the album name, enough to name this blog in tribute. I was picturing some kind of grand anime-inspired album about ultra-sarcastic post-modern robots learning to grow human and let down their guard for a pure rush of emotion that melded electronica and humans organically, maybe like a concept album version of A.I. except more successful. But that CD already came out, and it was called Neon Golden, so I guess we're OK.
the Decemberists, Picaresque - the lyrical world of the Decemberists will teeter over into unsalvageable self-parody any minute now. In fact, it does so on "The Mariner's Revenge Song," an 8-minute plus song which has sailors, whales, adventurers, fortunes stolen, etc. It's Decemberists by the numbers (it will be soon a rule that any Decemberists song must feature at least two of the following elements: royalty, a battle, a reference to an archaic job [barrow boy, milliner, soldier-of-fortune, etc.], gratuitous anglophilia). But their melodic sense increases apace, meaning I kept about half of the album for the iPod. "The Engine Driver" is movingly melancholy, with its plaintive chorus of "I am a writer, a writer of factions," even if its guitars crib from the Smiths near-unforgivably; "The Infanta," despite its ridiculous lyrics (dessicated aristocracy and all) storms powerfully, suggesting that Chris Walla's indie-wall-of-sound approach works better here than in, say, his work for Death Cab For Cutie (his own damn band!). The undeniable highlight, however, is "Sixteen Military Wives," a super-sharp anti-Bush/war-in-Iraq song whose polemic stays angry without getting annoyingly smarmy and self-righteous, buoyed by a totally rocking sax/trumpet section and Meloy actually letting out a "whoo!" before the whole giddy thing swings into the chorus one last time. Totally awesome.