Wednesday, May 07, 2008

i'm back, and isn't it pretty odd?

Wow, it's almost 2 years since I last updated this blog! Assuming that anyone's reading this (haha), I do have a good explanation though. I've been busy with work (as always), but my band Couple has been very, very busy playing live shows week in, week out and trying to win a place in the Malaysian Book of Records as "The hardest gigging band aka Road Dogs of All Time". Hehe, wow, lame try at being sarcastic!
I've also been writing music reviews for a KL-based music magazine (with regional ambitions) called Junk, so my 'writing' time's been taken up too. But finally I'm taking a huge step to living the true 'punk' dream, i.e. to be 'free' to do whatever the hell I want, by starting out on my own (my own law firm and a music-related business), which therefore will also enable me to manage my own time when it comes to my band Couple, and my writing aspirations...
Anyways, after 2 years, so many possibly good things have happened, both to me personally and to our beloved country Malaysia, so I'll definitely be blogging on these soon, but first I'll be putting up some of the reviews I've written for Junk magazine here for your reading pleasure, starting with the latest one published, which is a review of Panic At The Disco's 2nd album, Pretty Odd, which nicely coincides with this blog post's title...
Pretty Odd

(Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen)

Second albums can be a really funny thing. It’s been made such a big deal of by music critics everywhere that even the thought of having to make a second album can sometimes induce a panic attack on an artist.

With this second album by Panic At The Disco (they’ve dropped the exclamation mark from their name for this album – don’t ask!), even a cursory listen will make you deduce that the Panic boys have taken a step rarely taken when it comes to second albums, that is they’ve made a 180-degree turn and made a completely different record from their debut. Whilst their debut can be squarely pegged in with the emo brigade, this new album is simply a flat out pop record. Heck, you can even call it a power pop album, filed under the Jellyfish school of power pop. Now that’s what I call pretty odd!

Opening with the type of intro song that almost always opens a ‘serious’ album from the psychedelic 60s, it’s with the second song, “Nine In The Afternoon” that they fully announce the splendour of their ambitions. Copping all the right moves from the equally ambitious second album by Jellyfish called Spilt Milk, the only thing that could’ve made the song even better would be some Queen-style harmonies, an element that’s strangely and sorely missing from the whole album.

It’s during the middle that the album loses a bit of steam, with loads of ballads and a few decent but unremarkable mid-tempo numbers, until we reach the song “The Piano Knows Something I Don’t Know”, another wonder of a song that again brings to mind the much underrated and criminally forgotten Jellyfish, sounding like something that might come out of mid-period Beatles, specifically circa Rubber Soul and Sgt Pepper’s.

Then onwards things start to pick up again and we’re treated to 2 more incredible songs in “Behind The Sea”, and the absolutely majestic “She Had The World”, in my humble opinion the undisputed crown jewel of the album. In fact, it’s so good, I can probably write a whole essay just on it!

Which now brings me to the problems I have with the album. As an album, it’s simply uneven, despite the respectable number of stunning songs on it. I kind of understand their ambitions and need to prove their musical craftsmanship to the world. It may only just be pop music after all, but there’s more to it than just being a great craftsman. You also gotta have soul, son. And for much of the album, that’s exactly what’s lacking.

Rating: 6/10

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