Wednesday, April 27, 2005

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.


Anonymous Bjorn said...

Your Decemberists review is right on.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Dru said...

Vadim: I like how you praise Decemberists for avoiding getting "annoyingly smarmy and self-righteous".

Shame you couldn't achieve the same level of objectivity in your own review.

And as for your comment "Bjorn" - well done. That really did add a poignant dimension we all needed to read. You obviously had very little else to do at 7.23 pm.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Vadim said...

Thanks for reading Dru. Always happy to hear thoughtful, objective criticism that's not smug.

Note the timestamp. I heart you.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Dru said...

:) seems I replied in a fit of passion. oops. cheers to your use of irony.

glad we agree on Engine Driver and 16 Military Wives at least...

have you posted any thoughts on the Crane's Wife?

6:51 PM  

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