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Friday, January 07, 2011

Arkeology: Day Five

Day Five:

In Full Regalia (2010)

What is to be the Ark's last studio album (until the eventual reunion, fingers crossed) certainly sounds like it. This has an air of finality to it. It's the group's most grown-up work, but also stands far apart from their other releases. The sound is retro 70's glam rock, but not in the same way that listeners were used to hearing from the band. The production's fuzzier, the vocals are rougher, and all in all it's a harder album to love than the past four, and the only release that didn't reach the top spot in the charts. At the same time, it's an essential part of the Ark story.

Debuted at #2
15 weeks in the top 60

Superstar by theark
Stay With Me (Single Version) by theark

NOTE: I reviewed this album just last April but haven't looked back at that review in preparation for this one. I think it's interesting to see how views change after you've lived with an album for awhile.

1. Take A Shine To Me
An odd mix of Abba and Sweet, this doesn't work quite as well as that would make it sound. It's one of the lightest tracks on the album and one of the best. More a continuation of the last album's glam sound than anything, but not as captivating. 8/10
2. Superstar
Single #1
Chart Peak: 33
Weeks on Chart: 1

This will probably go down as my least-favorite Ark single. It's not that it's not catchy, and it's not that I didn't like it at first, but the production irks me (a problem I have with the entire album, actually). The key seems to high and the melody, while nice, is just too repetitive. 8/10
3. Stay With Me
Single #2
Chart Peak: n/a
Weeks on Chart: n/a

The second and last single from the album, I really like the first two thirds of the song but, like with the last track, the vocal histrionics of the last part just aren't very well produced. What does work, though, is the lyrics. And I've actually grown to like this more than I did on first listen. 8/10
4. Singing 'Bout The City
One of the absolute highlights of the album, though it sounds very little like material we'd expect from the band. An odd amalgamation of hippy rock, country, disco and Broadway musical, this functions, lyrically, as a fitting finale to the Ark song. It brings Ola full circle, from his childhood in the countryside to his career with the band in the city and back again. 10/10
5. Have You Ever Heard A Song
My favorite ballad on the album, though it borders on over-sentimentality. Still, it's a dramatically delicate gospel-infused ballad that, again, sounds very much like a swan song for the band. Should have been the last track on the album. 9/10
6. Publicity Seeking Rockers
The production could certainly be cleaner, but this is one of the better tracks here and kicks off the second half, glammier portion of the album. There's a classic glitter rock sound at work here that could have been amazing. It's a very near-miss. 8/10
7. I'll Have My Way With You, Frankie This is a big departure into a harder sound for the band and it actually works. It's not necessarily the band I fell in love with, but I think this is a late-career standout. 9/10
8. All Those Days I really don't like this song. I've tried, but I just can't get into it. It's easily the dullest track on any Ark album (excluding their pre-album EP) and seems to go nowhere. 6/10
9. Hygiene Squad
A weird, twist-and-shout novelty sound dominates this truly ponderous track. I like it, but it's definitely nothing I would expect from the band. It's been nearly a year and I still don't quite know what to think of this. 8/10
10. The Red Cap
The purest Ark-sounding song on the album, even though the lyrics are a bit strange. Still, the production's better than most of the previous tracks and there's even a hint of the old bombast present. This might be my favorite on the album, which really says something because it's certainly not single-material. 10/10
ALBUM: 8.4

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Anonymous Natasza said...

It seems to me that most songs on this album are rated +3, just because it's The Ark, correct me if I'm wrong ;)

5:53 AM  
Anonymous ArkArmy said...

Unfortunately, this is also my least favorite Ark album. I think I've only listened to it 3 times so far. Red Cap, Stay with me and Singin' bout the City are my favorite ones. The rest is just a-ok.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Natasza: three might be going a little far, but I'd definitely like this album less if it wasn't by my favorite band. Still, by their standards, it was a massive disappointment. Judged against other acts, it was an okay, above average rock album.

11:11 PM  

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