Monday, April 19, 2010

Album Reviews from the Week of 4/11-4/17

MGMT - “Congratulations”

Three years after their smash debut “Oracular Spectacular,” MGMT’s sophomore effort falls short of expectations. “Congratulations”, the band’s second album, lacks the upbeat, high-energy optimism of “Oracular,” which gained popularity through tracks such as the much-loved and oft-remixed “Kids.” “Congratulations” is more subdued, but not relaxed. It’s not chilled out, it’s restrained. Put simply, most of the album is boring.

Tracks such as the 12-minute long “Siberian Breaks,” which the band describes as a “pop surf opera,” do little to give listeners anything fun enough to move to or anything laid-back enough to groove to. However, all is not lost. The punchy shout-out to producer and musician Brian Eno in the aptly-named track “Brian Eno” adds a much-needed, up-tempo boost to the album. The band takes this opportunity to praise their musical ancestors: “We’re always one step behind him, he’s Brian Eno.”

Final Review Haiku: “Congratulations,” Don’t pat yourself on the back. Two stars out of five.

Codeine Velvet Club - “Codeine Velvet Club”

The new solo project by The Fratellis’ frontman Jon Lawler and Scottish songstress Lou Hickey, “Codeine Velvet Club” is the band’s self-titled debut album. “Codeine” is a mix of big band swing and gin joint sulk, with a taste of the U.K. indie-punk that is more characteristic of Lawler’s usual fare.

Sexy and suave, the album’s single “Vanity Kills” launches in with Hickey sweetly crooning the melody; Lawler joins in with his coarse tenor. This track would be right at home in a noir film as an auburn-haired beauty charms a haggard private investigator out from the bottom of his bottle.

Final Review Haiku: Seedy burlesque rock. Totally worth a listen. Four stars out of five.

Coheed and Cambria - “Year of the Black Rainbow”

In a continuation of the legend that Coheed and Cambria has cultivated over the past decade, the band’s fifth studio album, “Year of the Black Rainbow,” is meant to serve as a prequel to the rest of the band’s musical saga. Claiming that every album is a concept album and a new chapter into the fictional “Amory Wars,” Coheed and Cambria have created the rock ‘n’ roll equivalent of the Iliad with their careers.

“Rainbow” furthers this tale as lead singer Claudio Sanchez’s vocals, which can be likened to a heavy metal Steve Perry, soar over the band’s sweeping, epic method of musical storytelling. The album’s second single, “Here We Are Juggernaut,” plays on the delicate balance between the band’s fantasy metal arrangements and their surprisingly personal lyrics as the battle rages between scorned love and a vital struggle: “It’s not your playground, it’s my heart... We’ll bury our burdens in blood. Becoming stronger juggernaut.”

Final Review Haiku: The epic tale goes on. Turn speakers to eleven. Four stars out of five.

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