Thursday, March 24, 2011
For the past couple of days, I've been trying to write two separate reviews for the new Radiohead and Strokes albums. But it's proving to be insanely difficult. And it's not because I'm too busy or that I don't have the desire to discuss their albums...it's just...it's hard for me to admit this...I can't bring myself to write less than stellar reviews about my two favorite bands.
Ok, so let me make this clear--it's not that I think The King of Limbs and Angles are bad albums; they're both good (btw, I like Radiohead's album better). It's just that I expect more from both bands. I love them both too much to pretend I don't have mixed feelings and that I'm not a bit disappointed by their new work. But I have to question how it's possible for me to have issues with both these albums. These are two very different albums by two very different bands (who rarely even share the same fan base). Virtually everything both bands have previously released I've loved. So I have to ask: is it just me? Is my individual taste in rock music shifting? Am I just always contradictory and awkward?
To those questions I have to answer: absolutely yes. And while I could get into the subjective theories of music and the listener (which I'll always champion), I don't want to bore you with my personal narrative about how I'm going through some transitional phase. And since I still love both bands, as is evident by the fact that I still regularly listen to their previous albums, I have to look for other explanations as to why I'm not crazy in love with these albums.
Basically, the only practical conclusion I can really come to is this: I blame both lead singers' solo projects for affecting the sound of their bands' new albums. Oh yes, I love Thom Yorke's The Eraser and Julian Casablanca's Phrazes for the Young (btw, I like Julian's album better) but they're not even comparable to Radiohead's In Rainbows and The Strokes' First Impressions of Earth. Those albums are incredible and they measure up to (if not surpass) both bands' previous efforts. So I was hoping, especially from Radiohead who managed to put out such an awesome album (In Rainbows) after Thom's solo album, that both bands would just come out with an evolved sound from their last collective efforts. Instead, I got more solo sounds. Here's the separate, brief breakdown:
The King of Limbs is far superior to The Eraser and has moments of pure blissful, beautiful Radiohead gold. "Lotus Flower" and "Codex" are ridiculously wonderful. But overall it's underwhelming and predictable. There were no alarms and no surprises! Still, it's a really good, cohesive album. Like, let's face it, if any other band put out this album they'd be receiving my accolades nonstop.
The same can be said for Angles; if this wasn't a Strokes album, I'd be talking about how sweet it is. But come on! It's The Strokes and they produced an album that sounds like an erratic version of Phrazes for the Young (which was an awesome album). The first two songs, "Machu Picchu" and "Under Cover of Darkness" are amazing but the rest of the album has yet to truly wow me.
I wanted to instantly fall in love with these albums, like I did with In Rainbows and First Impressions of Earth. I wanted to listen to them on repeat for months (again, like I did with their last albums). But I'm just left feeling a bit unfulfilled. I like The King of Limbs and Angles but I find myself already taking them out of my iPod rotation...
What do you guys think? Have either or both of these albums been a little disappointing? I hope it is just me going through a phase. I hope that at a later date I'll come back to both these albums and love them.