Your Ad Here

Friday, September 10, 2010

Track-by-Track: Hurts - Happiness

Hurts come onto the scene with raised expectations. It's hard for any band to live up to "best of '10" press before they've even got an album out. Add to that their stellar reputation from now-defunct pop band Daggers and this album carries with it more baggage than any other this year. To its credit, it offers exactly the type of sound we'd expect from Hurts. That's both a good thing and a bad thing.

1. Silver Lining - A slightly aggressive midtempo that goes big on the drama but a little soft on the melody. The chorus just doesn't soar the way that their best songs do. Would've worked better in a different track position on the album. 8/10

2. Wonderful Life - The single that really defines the Hurts sound. It's moody without being dragged down by a plodding sound. I love the storytelling in the lyrics and the hook is incredibly strong. 10/10

3. Blood, Tears & Gold - A big, lighters-in-the-air ballad that's totally misplaced this early in the album. It's more of a "second half" song, if you know what I mean. Still, one of their best ballads. 9/10

4. Sunday - The kind of soaring uptempo that I hoped would appear at least once on this album. The orchestral flourishes transform this into something quite special. 10/10

5. Stay - Another winner, and the best ballad on the album. If this isn't a hit single, I'll be surprised. It's one of those songs you hear for the first time and know it'll be big. Pop magic. 10/10

6. Illuminated - I've never been very fond of this track. It's one of the moodier songs, but comes and goes without really doing anything. I think I'm in the minority on this one, though. 7/10

7. Evelyn - An old Daggers song, this has been augmented into something completely over-the-top. It builds and builds until exploding in a heavy ending. A perfect example of what Hurts should be about. 9/10

8. Better Than Love - Another Daggers song, and this one hasn't been changed much from the original. It's one of the few uptempos on here (they could've done with more) and definitely a highlight. It's all dramatic, swirling synths. 10/10

9. Devotion (ft. Kylie Minogue) - A moody piece that sounds very similar to Silver Lining, except it's miles better. It's nice hearing Minogue on a dark track like this again. Future single, for sure. It would be a great Winter release. 9/10

10. Unspoken - This has improved so much from the original demo. I love the kitchen sink production, though I'm guessing it won't be to everyone's taste. Like Evelyn, this builds and builds until it becomes something quite anthemic. 9/10

11. The Water - A quiet closer with symphonic backing. The lyrics are nice but the melody's not one of the stronger on the album. Atmospheric, but not quite as affecting as it could have been. 7/10

Album Grade: 8.9/10


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Brandon Flowers - Was It Something I Said

"You've got me on my knees"

This new Brandon Flowers solo album is really screwing with me. Do I like it or not? To be honest, I'm still not quite sure. Sometimes when I listen, it just sounds like Killers music at its worst. Other times, I'm won over by its rootsy earnestness. So the verdict's still out, though I've gotta say my initial impressions of Crossfire have become much more positive as the summer's gone on. It's grown on me. Maybe the album will, too. One song that hit me instantly, though, was the Killers-esque Was It Something I Said. Maybe it's because it's the synthiest track on the album, but I can't help but thinking that this is how solo Brandon Flowers should sound. It's got that quirky indie vibe, but it's augmented with one of the hookiest choruses on the record and those new wave synths. It seems that, on the whole, he's aiming to create the kind of work that Sweden's Moneybrother cranks out so effortlessly. He's got a ways to go, but I'll keep listening to this in the hope that it'll grow as much as Crossfire did.

Brandon Flowers - Was It Something I Said by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Pop Blitz 9/8/10

Alexandra Burke - Start Without You A RedOne production, which in itself is something to be thankful for because he compliments Alexandra quite well. This wasn't on the album, but should have been. It's got a bit of novelty to it with the Caribbean feel, but it's fun late-Summer pop. B+

Cee Lo Green - FU
He's finally found another track to rival Crazy! This is great, old-school soul (though the hook's foul-mouthed lyrics are bound to get him censored). A-

Bruno Mars - Just The Way You Are
Currently the number one song on US itunes, this is a slightly trancey ballad that's actually better than I expected. The melody's nice, if a little boyband. It sounds very current, in a way that's pleasant now but completely forgettable down the road. B-

Taylor Swift - Mine
And she's regurgitated the same single over again. Each time, the music becomes less charming. This targets her audience perfectly, but it's just grating for the rest of us. C

Rihanna - Only Girl (In The World)
It's back to uptempo dance music for Rihanna. This is a good thing, and this is a great song. There's a danger of this sounding like everything else out there, but she definitely puts her own stamp on it. A promising taster from the new album. A

Selena Gomez & the Scene - A Year Without Rain
Ends her string of great bubblegum pop singles. This is her trying to be serious, which results in a snore of a song that's more mood than melody. Too bad. It's her first big misstep as far as singles go. C+

Olly Murs - Please Don't Let Me Go
He was a consummate song and dance man on X-Factor, but this dials down the showmanship in favor of a Jason Mraz sound. It's not annoying, but it's not interesting either. It's just sort of there. B-

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ali Love - Doing The Dirty

"There's nothing that you can do"

Ali Love, who I adored a couple years ago when his work was criminally unreleased, has reinvented himself as Prince. The new album (his first to be officially released) is complete italo-disco, sleaze-funk circa 1985. When it works, it's a breath of fresh air. It works about half of the time, I'd say. Doing The Dirty is every bit as fun as the title would suggest (though the "dirty" in question is more PG than expected). Of all the tracks on the album, it's this that reminds me the most of a long lost Prince b-side. From the disinterested female vocals singing the hook to the squiggly, seesaw synth, everything's simple and potent enough to stick. It's all about groove with this style of music, and this is my favorite groove on the album. Odd that this wasn't selected as a single straightaway. It's certainly catchy enough.

Ali Love - Doing The Dirty by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Hurts - Sunday

"It's just another lonely Sunday"

As I've mentioned before, I've been a fan of Theo and Adam for a couple of years now, ever since they were part of the electropop band Daggers. Now the day has finally come where they can officially release an album as Hurts. It's a little anticlimactic, both because I'd heard most of the album already and because, as good as Hurts are (and the album's terrific), I'm still such a Daggers fan that I can only imagine what might have been if they had continued down that route. That being said, one of the album's brightest spots is the uptempo Sunday, which sounds very much like a Daggers song. It's got the string-laden grandeur of Hurts, though, which makes it quite epic. An album of this style would be absolutely incredible. Melodic, rousing pop rarely gets the love that it deserves, and I imagine this will get looked over by critics in favor of some of the album's moodier moments (of which there are many - a little too many, if you ask me). This maintains the lovelorn lyrics, but melds them with sprawling, chugging production that suits Theo's lush vocals perfectly. The build-up to the last chorus is out of this world. Despite some of my misgivings, I highly recommend that you check out the album as well.

Hurts - Sunday by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.