Review: Tyler, the Creator - WOLF
Tyler, The Creator’s junior album is a bit eclectic in terms of concept, but here’s what I took away from it: It is not his third therapy session - instead, it’s a stand-alone story that can be interpreted both literally, as actually happening, or figuratively, inside Tyler’s fractured psyche. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The premise: likeable troublemaker Wolf Haley arrives at “Camp Flog Gnaw” and encounters the extremely anti-social jazz player/crack dealer (?) Samuel. Wolf starts to make friends with Samuel’s girlfriend Salem, much to the chagrin of Sam, who starts a riot in which Earl Sweatshirt is killed. The album closes as Wolf contemplates the death of his (Tyler’s) grandmother and threatens violence against Samuel. It’s abundantly clear that Wolf and Samuel are two halves of Tyler, the former being a more self-aware individual and the latter trapped by emotional immaturity, and that the former is becoming more prominent as Samuel burns out. If Bastard was the story of a kid dealing with growing up without a father, and Goblin was the story of that same kid dealing with the launch into stardom, then Wolf is that kid dealing with the realizations brought on by the previous two stories.
But regardless of the interesting (if rather muddled) concept, none of that means a damn thing if the music itself can’t stand up. Fortunately, Tyler has pulled through on that front. His production has continued to evolve, pulling from a variety of influences: Neptunes-style funk on “Jamba”, “48” and “IFHY”, neo-soul on “Treehome95”, arpeggiated guitar chords on “Answer”, and straight jazz on closer “Lone” - the same brand of sonic eclecticism and experimentation that Gorillaz employ on their albums. Yet he retains connection to the sound he developed on his last two albums, melding the darkness of Goblin and Bastard with the happier sounds that he’s professed to loving - just another example of his beloved contradictions, like when he tears into his father directly, rather than through one-liners or retrospect, on “Answer” over charming guitars and pleasant synths reminiscent of ringing phones. The problematically long hooks of past Odd Future releases has mostly been skirted here as well, only becoming an issue on “Trashwang” Unfortunately, though, some sacrifices have been made despite the progression. The unique if strange percussion on the last album has been replaced with conventional hip-hop drumkits that stand out jarringly from the rest of the production in a bad case of imbalanced mixing - a problem that the album as a whole experiences. But the music outside of the drums sounds stellar, embracing different instrumentation and moods to create a musical work that is, surprisingly, very consistent.
Tyler’s lyrics have always been provocative in the vein of classic punk rock artists, and when several songs have a four-beat count-off, it’s hard (at least for me) not to think of Dee Dee Ramone shouting “1-2-3-4!” before launching into a show. Wolf balances introspection and storytelling well, explaining on “Cowboy” and “Lone” that although newfound financial stability has brought improvements, happiness hasn’t necessarily come along as a result. He’s still forced to deal with the death of his grandmother, who is now “just nostalgia”, and contemplate how his friends are all going through their own issues (“Frank is out the closet, Hodgy’s an alcoholic/Syd might be bipolar, but *** it, I couldn’t call it”), and work through the intricacies of relationships on “IFHY” and “Awkward”. He does come close to rehashing points he’s already made, like those about critics or his father, but he tries to only touch on these subjects with one-liners to avoid repeating himself too much (“Tyler talkin’ father problems” and “fuck critics/(How’s your dick?)/Shit, how’s your knees?” from “Slater”).
Tyler understands the niche that he’s found himself in, mostly beloved by white teenagers with either inflated egos or severe issues. This is called to attention on “Colossus”, which essentially makes the same characterization as Eminem’s “Stan” in a less subtle fashion - a fan who adores Tyler to the extent of obsession and homosexual feelings over rumbling bass and jazz chords. It’s an exaggeration, to be sure, and one could say he’s putting words into the mouths of his fans, but it demonstrates his perspective on the matter of being mobbed and complimented by fans. And in spite of the success that he touts on lead single “Domo23” and “Slater”, Tyler is well aware that said success has stemmed from being relatable - Goblincould certainly be accused of having its head far up its own ass, but it still managed to connect with his audience in their anger and worries over the future, themes that he expands upon on Wolf. On “Rusty”, with Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt, he covers how he has become an important figure to many teenagers, staving them off from depression or lashing out and encouraging individuality, and with “Awkward” and “IFHY” discusses the paradoxes and pains of love and lust. Also notable is “Pigs”, which tells the story of how Samuel arrives at Camp Flog Gnaw atop menacing organs and police sirens, but also functions as A: a general story of how young people can be pushed to violence by the cruelties of their peers, and B: the story of Tyler’s rise to prominence, bullied and mocked into lashing out before recoiling at the backlash of the “pigs”.
Though Wolf is well-produced and lyrically compelling, it has an issue with tracklisting and filler. First single “Domo23” is astonishingly out of place between “Awkward” and “Answer”, two of the calmer songs of the album, because it’s entirely built around hype - it’s also one of the weaker songs, designed to pander, with the obligatory celebrity name-dropping that is kept to a surprising minimum through the rest of the album. And production-wise, it’s mostly made up of the same synthesizers that were used to great effect on Goblin, but don’t mesh with Wolf at all - the horns that bookend the song deserved more usage. “Treehome95” quite honestly doesn’t fit on the album itself - according to the skit, it’s a song by Samuel’s jazz/soul band “The Dead Sams”, but it still doesn’t make sense positioned where it is between the riotous hype songs “Trashwang” and “Tamale”. Neither of those songs are particularly bad, however - just out of place. “PartyIsntOver” and “Campfire” are both abysmal songs, repetitive and annoying and crammed into one track with the actually interesting and fun song, “Bimmer”.
But although one can nit-pick as though they were a chimpanzee with a refined ear, Wolf is definitely a development and not a regression or stagnation. Tyler has become more self-aware with his lyrics, but not so much that he has become purely laughable, and his production improves the more he incorporates the music he loves. It’s not the conclusion to the trilogy of therapy sessions that were promised, but it’s very satisfying.
Rating - 8.0
Deerhunter: New Album Monomania
It’s been almost three years since Deerhunter released Halcyon Digest, so we’ve been waiting for new album news from them for a while, and here it is: 4AD will release Monomania, the band’s fifth record, on May 7. The band’s made a couple lineup changes in the interim period – Josh McKayhas taken over on bass duties, and Frankie Broyles, formerly of Balkans, is now the band’s third (!) guitarist. We’re psyched to hear what the record sounds like with these new members, and with early reports from the Black Lips’ twitter that it might just be Deerhunter’s best record yet – in a typically cryptic statement, Bradford Cox calls the record “nocturnal garage,” which sounds pretty good to us. Check out the tracklist while you wait – nerds like me out there might recognize at least two of the track titles from Atlas Sound and Lotus Plaza live bootlegs.
01 Neon Junkyard
02 Leather Jacket II
03 The Missing
05 Dream Captain
06 Blue Agent
09 Back To The Middle
12 Punk (La Vie Antérieure)
Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 Lineup
The Pitchfork Music Festival has announced its 2013 lineup in full. Its headliners – Björk, Belle & Sebastian and R. Kelly – are heavy in 90s nostalgia (in the best way), while second tier acts likeJoanna Newsom, Solange and M.I.A. are much more current. Overall, it’s a great selection of bands. The festival will go down July 19th – 21st in Chicago’s Union Park. Check out the full lineup below:
Belle & Sebastian
The Breeders play Last Splash
…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
Yo La Tengo
Toro Y Moi
Autre Ne Veut
Kid Cudi – Indicud Tracklist + Artwork
Kid Cudi, yea, the “Unfuckwittable” Kid Cudi, has just shared the kind of insane 18-song tracklist and the kind of hideous artwork for his upcoming, next-level album Indicud.
The album will feature hip hop heavyweights Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky and RZA, as well has longtime collaborator King Chip. But that’s to be expected, and Cudder is anything if not unpredictable. Cudi balances the big names in rap with ones rising in indie; dude’s hit up the sistersHaim and former Fleet Fox Father John Misty for some (we’re guessing) sweet hooks. Oh andMichael Bolton will also make an appearance with the King Chip assisted “Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends).” All this and more on Indicud, out April 23rd on Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music.
KID CUDI INDICUD TRACKLIST:
01. The Resurrection Of Scott Mescudi
03. Just What I Am feat. King Chip
04. Young Lady feat. Father John Misty
05. King Wizard
07. Solo Dolo Part II feat. Kendrick Lamar
08. Girls feat. Too Short
09. New York City Rage Fest
10. Red Eye feat. Haim
11. Mad Solar
12. Beez feat. RZA
13. Brothers feat. King Chip & A$AP Rocky
14. Burn Baby Burn
15. Lord Of The Sad And Lonely
16. Cold Blooded
17. Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends) feat. Michael Bolton & King Chip
18. The Flight Of The Moon Man
Review: Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
After a decade marked by social digitization, political alienation, and the monetization of indie, Youth Lagoon, the musical persona of Boise, Idaho’s 22-year-old Trevor Powers, has emerged with a knack for channeling the insecurities and frustrations of existing in this cultural context. His own bittersweet introspection is made relatable by its childlike sincerity and innocence. Wondrous Bughouse is a study on daydreams, inspiration, and silver linings.
Youth Lagoon’s sophomore record stands tall and sure-footed. Powers has taken the dreamy, minimalist lo-fi pop of his 2011 debut, The Year of Hibernation, from the bedroom to the full studio, and walks out with an album of dense, experimental arrangements and delicate sonic playgrounds of melody and ambience. Psychedelic textures and noises provide a rich backdrop to booming, melodic choruses, immediately accessible from the second track, “Mute.” Live-recorded percussion has enabled more diversity in beats than was seen on his previous album and cleaner production has allowed for more audible lyrics and better effects control. Powers has not abandoned the style fans are familiar with however; Youth Lagoon still writes quirky collections of subdued, yet powerful pop, but his new record is freshly nuanced and patiently fleshed out.
Bughouse’s greatest strength is its ability to step out of time. Its songs are as rooted in the songwriting of 20th century pop-rock ballads (see: “Pelican Man”), as they are in the sonic experimentation of psych-pop contemporaries like Animal Collective or Yeasayer. Powers’ approach to making music is like a childhood memoir, the indiscriminate sincerity unleashed by writing a diary makes for seamless weaving of influence, modern and antique. Toy-like, carnival melodies on tracks like “Attic Doctor” glisten with hazy summer memory, while “Dropla” deals with watching a loved one pass away on a hospital bed by wailing, “You’ll never die.” The contrast between the maturity of song-craft and production on the album and Powers’ continuing embrace of the fearless creativity of youth make for a sound that directly confronts notions of coming of age without ignoring what came before.
Wondrous Bughouse is Powers’ anxious memoir from the past and present, delivered high-register and dripping with tremolo: “as I hear the horses drawing close, over all the corpses we have left, I’ve never seen them, I’ve never seen them.” This is Youth Lagoon, a hopeful dystopia where we face the horrors and banalities of the world with innocence, curiosity, and bravery.
Rating - 8.9Posted 8 months ago by schneiderdude ♥3 youthlagoon mute dropla Wondrous Bughouse music2013 albumreview
Review: Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
Early last January, Justin Timberlake teased his return to pop music on a one-minute video that instantly went viral. Shot in black and white for full dramatic flair, the video shows Timberlake making his way into a recording studio while in voice-over he wrestles with the question everyone’s been asking during his seven-year sabbatical: “So are you just done with music?” His reply:
[Music] means more to me than to anybody else in the world. Look, I’ve only done two albums in ten years. That’s the way I really look at it. What does the next decade mean for me? I’m the one who sits and is obsessive about it before you even get to hear it. As close as I get to it, I don’t know that I can physically torture myself that much year in and year out and expect it to fulfill me the way that it does and the way that it is right now. I don’t want to put anything out that I feel like is something I…I…I don’t love. You just don’t get that every day. You have to wait for it.
What a jumbled and oddly defensive response to a question he’s surely answered countless times in private on film sets, at fashion shows, and on putting greens. The video ends with JT putting on headphones and speaking two words into a microphone: I’m ready. The implied question for the rest of humanity is: Are you? Finally! Some bravado from the guy who once sang of his tremendous allure with a rare, perfectly worded lyric: “Is it really cocky if you know that it’s true?”
The video, unfortunately, is emblematic of the album it heralds, The 20/20 Experience, Timberlake’s third solo release and his botched attempt at a pop masterpiece. This almost-terrific album, sometimes overreaching but more often frustratingly cautious, falls short largely thanks to JT’s muddled artistic vision. 20/20 is a contradictory experience. Its ten tracks sprawl boldly over 70 minutes, but too many of those minutes are wasted on retro-soul regurgitations and interminable codas. And yet the album sounds fantastic throughout (if you’re willing to sit through all of it). Timbaland (who co-produced each track with Timberlake and Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon), as electrifying as ever, is 20/20’s true superhero. With his finest studio embellishments in years, he swoops in and rescues the album whenever it threatens to teeter off the cliff into mind-numbing monotony.
With The 20/20 Experience, Timberlake has created a gigantic pop jigsaw puzzle slathered in glue. Its many exceptional moments appear in patches, here and there, over and over again, within long stretches of dazzling sonic filler. Of the many wonderful songs on 20/20, none can be easily plucked out to rival “Cry Me a River,” “My Love,” or “What Goes Around…Comes Around.” “Suit & Tie,” the album’s sunshiny, if insubstantial, first single is pleasant enough, sure, with all of its sparkly harp glissandos and cheerful horn blasts. But its digestible runtime is its greatest asset. (Still, it’s too long.)
Timberlake’s music has always been a prism, refracting his classic influences. Justified tenderly restyled Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson. FutureSex/LoveSounds experimented with mid-career Prince. On The 20/20 Experience, JT mostly invokes the breezy 70s soul of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, though MJ and Prince make notable appearances (the former on the second half of “Don’t Hold the Wall,” the latter on “Strawberry Bubblegum” and “Spaceship Coupe”.) Then there are the whackadoo homages to the Miami Sound Machine (“Let the Groove In”) and Chicago (“Mirrors”), that hint at how incredible The 20/20 Experience might have been, were Timberlake (& co.) willing to risk going off the rails a bit more.
20/20 is an R&B album, minus the “B.” Propulsion rules the record, especially on Eastern-influenced “Don’t Hold the Wall,” “Tunnel Vision” (a sonic sequel to “Cry Me a River” and “What Goes Around…Comes Around”), and the feverish “Let the Groove In.” The album is thoroughly sunny by way of its poor lyrics, which resemble modern-day Madonna’s worst (perhaps it’s something he picked up during their unfortunate collaboration?) and the stuff of Prince-parody. Love is like your favorite drug (“Pusher Love Girl”) or maybe it hails from wrong side of the tracks (“That Girl”); sex somehow resembles sugary treats (“Strawberry Bubblegum”) or maybe it’s an intergalactic joyride (“Spaceship Coupe”). Do I need to mention Timberlake doesn’t count Dylan as one of his influences?
As much as The 20/20 Experience exasperates me, I’m often left rapt. “Pusher Love Girl” – the album’s auspicious opener – bounces to and fro during its verse, erupts into a superb chorus, and only improves during its cracked second half. Timbaland weaves human beatbox, strings, manic percussion, and odd electronics into a lavish tapestry on “Tunnel Vision,” his showcase.
20/20 concludes with its three most intrepid tracks. “Let the Groove In” is a triumph of roiling beats and textures, with JT’s voice a mote within the ecstatic dance-floor maelstrom. “Mirrors,” the album’s open-hearted anthem, is a wedding song for narcissists; its glorious chorus would make Peter Cetera proud. The amorphous splendor of “Blue Ocean Floor” finds JT at his most adventurous, certainly his biggest surprise since transforming into a solo artist on Justified.
The 20/20 Experience is confused, sloppy, frustrating, too safe, a let-down. Timberlake’s lyrics are laughable. The album begs to be edited. While these observations hold true – at least part of the time – there remains another, incontrovertible, truth: 20/20 is a total blast. You have to hand it to Justin Timberlake. Few pop artists have the skill and bravery to make such a stunning mess.
Rating - 7.4Posted 8 months ago by schneiderdude justintimberlake nsync the20/20 dont hold the wall suitandtie pusherlovergirl mirrors
Review: Wavves – Afraid of Heights
From a casual first listen Afraid of Heights revises little in Nathan Williams’ recipe for the noisy, apathetic surf rock of Wavves’ August 2010 release King of the Beach — a record that cornered a spot for the band on many album of the year lists and as a mainstay of summer festivals for the past two years. Williams’ knack for making hooky power-chord punk songs fronted by his repetitive, intoxicating nasal drone is alive and well. What has changed is the depth of his lyrical apathy and hopelessness, trading lines like “I’m just having fun with you” and “You’re never gonna stop me” for “first we gotta get high and sail to the sun / chances are none, we’ll all die alone just the way we live / in a grave.”
While King of the Beach was drenched in the carefree invulnerability of summer surf and smoke, Wavves has developed an aging adolescent sense of helpless and reckless abandon that overflows from every depressed line on Afraid of Heights. “Do what you’re brain says, take what you like / soon it’s over, you’ll regret your whole life / it’s not as easy as I thought it would be, that’s on me.” Williams asserts this painfully unrealized search for meaning, but finds comfort in the constraints of contemporary life by writing them off with a whatever, dude. This is the plague of the offspring of baby boomers; an extended adolescence that has too much to really want anything, viewing itself and this dilemma as unique and impossible to relate to. Williams channels this lonely egoism on the album’s title track, “I’ll always be on my own, fucked and alone.” He reminds this listener again on “Lounge Forward” with a lazy howl Billie Jo Armstrong would be proud of, “none of you will ever understand me.” Wavves’ obsession with drugs, death, and self-deprecation boils over into suicidal thoughts voiced through a warbling vibrato reminiscent of Conor Oberst on “Demon to Lean On;” “holding a gun to my head, so send me an angel / or bury me deeply instead, with demons to lean on.”
Afraid of Heights confronts its crippling anxiety and Williams’ apparent fear of fame with stoned acceptance, “There’s nothing to prove, nothing to do / there’s nowhere to go, nothing to lose.” In a way, this self-imposed creative limit protects the album from criticism, because if he doesn’t care then why should we? The 90s slacker rock sound of the album matches its lyrical tone; take the Cobain-heavy sludge of “That’s on Me” or the “Blister in the Sun” acoustic intro on “Demon to Lean On.” With better production quality than we’ve heard from Wavves before — this might not even qualify as “lo-fi” anymore — Williams is able to explore psychedelic sonic textures akin to his earlier work on Wavves from a new angle. The third track, “Mystic,” is an example of this experimentation and a sleeper on the record; the swirling, syncopated bass riff in the chorus is the closest thing the album has to a killer riff.
The nonchalant attitude Wavves approaches music-making with provides a cap to the height it can reach in terms of producing something truly excellent or groundbreaking. However, that’s kind of the whole point. I doubt Nathan Williams cares how much of a whiny brat he acts like, because we’re just jealous he turns the adolescent feelings we try to squelch into a fame that he apparently doesn’t even enjoy. The cheeky irony it takes to make a playful jangle-pop song about a friend killing a cop or to make a track called “I Can’t Dream,” the dreamiest track on the record, lets us know not to take it all too seriously either.
Rating - 8.5Posted 8 months ago by schneiderdude ♥1 wavves afraid of heights nathan williams demon to lean on sail to the sun
“Kraftwerk (pronounced [ˈkʁaftvɛɐk], German for “power plant” or “power station”) is an influential electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western classical style of harmony, with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation. The group’s simplified lyrics are at times sung through a vocoder or generated by computer-speech software. In the early to late 1970s and the early 1980s, Kraftwerk’s distinctive sound was revolutionary for its time, and it has had a lasting impact across many genres of modern popular music.”
SO BASICALLY, JUST FUCKIN’ LISTEN TO THEM ALREADY!!
Review: FIDLAR – FIDLAR
Review: FIDLAR – FIDLAR
In interviews, the four Los Angeles guys behind FIDLAR often have to repeatedly insist that they actually do work really hard on their music. It’s easy to assume otherwise when the first track on their first record is called “Cheap Beer” and the second, “Stoked and Broke,” is a paean to getting wasted and skateboarding, with the key lyric, shouted in frontman Zac Carper’s customary hoarse yowl, “there’s nothing wrong with living like this / all my friends are pieces of shit.” The seeming clincher on their slackerdom is the band’s very name (of which all the members have stick and poke tattoos), an acronym for “fuck it dog, life’s a risk,” which seems like even more of a shrugged-off ambivalent whatever than YOLO.
But, as your mom would say, assuming makes an ass out of you and me, and FIDLAR write really, really good songs. Each track on their excellent self-titled debut is a bubbly slice of smart, spare, moshpit-ready pop-punk that’ll earworm its way into your brain within three seconds of your pressing play, with a driving rhythm section underpinning interwoven guitars (prone, of course, to break into any number of wailing solos) and lyrics that range from shouted mantras for you to fist-pump along to at the dream house show in your mind (“I! Drink! Cheap! Beer! So! What! Fuck! You!”) to inside jokes about certain band members’ questionable surfing abilities (“stop wearing tight jeans!”) to tracks that are actually kind of – dare I say it – melancholy. As much as Carper and guitarist Elvis Kuehn, who takes lead vocal duties on some of the records more blues- and classic rock-inclined tracks, might extol the joys of beer, weed, and bombing hills over rollicking surf-punk instrumentals, they spend most of the record taking on some more serious topics – drug addiction, all manner of bad relationships, money troubles; “5 to 9” ends with its narrator getting shipped off to LA County Jail for taking bong rips in the car.
In “Wake! Bake! Skate!,” a concise, anthemic fist-pumper, Carper sings about hoping he can stay alive long enough to keep getting fucked up with his friends – not exactly the kind of sentiment you might expect from the same guy who spends most of “Cheap Beer” proudly listing a litany of his concurrent questionable decisions as though they were the essence of life itself. He might be unable to deny being the charming delinquent you expect him to be, but he can’t quite bring himself to just fuck it, dog. FIDLAR will make you want to pound a case of the cheapest beer you can find with these guys, it’ll make you want to crank it up as loud as it will go in whichever of your friends’ cars is the shittiest and drive through your city with the windows down, and it’ll make you want to try your hand on your little brother’s skateboard, but be careful what you take as the record’s – and the band’s – mission statement. If there’s one at all, it’s probably not what you’d expect.
I'm Richard: Review: Ex Cops – True Hallucinations
I'm Richard: Review: Ex Cops – True Hallucinations
Anyone familiar with Brian Harding or Amalie Bruun’s previous work might be surprised by the direction they’ve taken with their latest project, Ex Cops. Throughout True Hallucinations, the debut from this Brooklyn duo, Harding and Bruun have proven themselves adept at creating infectious…
Review: Ducktails – The Flower Lane
Review: Ducktails – The Flower Lane
The prospect of a solo project always brings with it some question towards its relation to the original band. In the case of Matthew Mondanile, the guitarist of Real Estate and leader of Ducktails, the two have, until now, remained neatly tucked in different niches of Mondanile’s musical ambition. While Real Estate strove for its brand of understated guitar pop, Mondanile used Ducktails to experiment with synthetic-based atmospheres. Both have a similar aesthetic touch of warm, simplistic guitar work, reminiscent of lazy summer afternoons in Mondanile’s home state of New Jersey. With The Flower Lane, however, Mondanile has obscured the line by moving Ducktails from the bedroom production of former albums and adding a full backing band.
From the album opener, “Ivy Colored House,” it’s clear that this is the most accessible release from Ducktails. Listening to 2010’s self-titled album or its follow-up, Ducktails was Mondanile’s outlet for his interest in lo-fi electronic textures. The Flower Lane is more reminiscent of Real Estate, but that’s not to say that this is a Real Estate album. These songs are much more spacey and psychedelic, stressing expansion over concision. The extreme of this shift is heard throughout “Under Cover,” which ventures into such excessive lengths with saxophone and guitar solos that it may be better suited for The Weather Channel. Granted, this is an extreme, but it does present some of the larger issues of underwhelming excess to be found on the album.
A distinct difference in this album is its production. Fuller, smoother, and more polished, it’s Mondanile’s most sonically pristine effort. Previous Ducktails albums wove a flawed tapestry in which different synthetic sounds and tones were combined to emphasize a more intimate, imperfect whole;The Flower Lane, on the other hand, has clearly pronounced parts contributing to its larger, refined sound. While this is usually a benefit, many of these songs fail to create a convincing soundscape for the listener. “Sedan Magic,” for example, is sonically pleasing and a very easy listen; the guitar riffs have a clean, fluid quality that nicely complements the female voice in the chorus. Nevertheless, in spite of its pleasantry, there is little that makes this song memorable.
Even on “Timothy Shy,” a distinct take on 60s pop in its piano stomp and guitar fills, the delivery sounds removed and distant. The wailing guitar solo at the end of the song gives it a much-needed breath of life, but before then the song trudges through a safely predictable rhythm that leaves no lasting imprint. The only trace of the song that came to mind is how its chorus (“When I see you my eyes turn blue”) oddly resembles a verse from “Gone Daddy Gone” (“When I see you, eyes will turn blue”). Otherwise, it exemplifies The Flower Lane’s greatest overall flaw: a lack of soul.
The question this album begs then is in its purpose. What has Mondanile provided in The Flower Lane, aside from a safely predictable psychedelic pop album? One could argue that all the spacey and transcendent qualities here don’t betray the album’s sincerity, including the “making love to my alien wife” line from “Planet Phrom,” but these parts do not make a convincing whole. Its songwriting, production, and delivery harbor no risks, and therefore the album safely passes by its listeners without leaving anything but a want for something a little more lively.
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