Uncommon music criticized by the common man. (Or, exercises in futility masquerading as critical thought.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I now bring you the first review. It's a bit of a soft lob; we'll see how it turns out.

We Are Your Friends
2002 - Astralwerks

If the first three tracks were representative of the entire album, We Are Your Friends would be a bona fide summertime classic. Opener "La Breeze" is the albums call to arms, with singer Simon Lord doing his best John Lennon imitation while some very fuzzy psych guitar bounces along on top of a dance-y little rhythm. It's not quite funky (nobody will mistake this for an Isley Brothers song), but it's an ass-mover akin to a Primal Scream track.

With "La Breeze" setting the table, "Sunshine" is a delightful appetizer. Not quite as catchy as the opener, the groove on this song is a bit more laid back, like Air without the atmosphere. "Never Be Alone," the song from which the album gets its title, follows this up and is another winner. It matches a Supergrass singalong vocal backed by an electropop accompaniment that reminds me of Mouse on Mars without all the hip influences and glitchcraft. This song is the album's standout and peak. Sadly, this is not an EP. It's not that the rest of the album is bad, per se--with the exception of the clunky "Skin" and the out-of-place Beach Boys from Mars "She's In Mind"--but it never even begins to approach the quality of the opening three songs. Songs like the dark, dancy number "Big Black Gun" or the new wave-y (and strangely reminiscent of Taco--"Putting on the Ritz," not the foodstuff) "The Way That I Live" are fine when taken at face value. However, when evaluated next to the opening trifecta of pop brilliance, they seem lifeless. Listening to the songs, it feels as if the band decided that they needed to "mix things up" in order for the album to not become too repetitive. This is a fine idea, but unfortunately, not fully realized here. While they certainly do change things up musically (and not in the hyperkinetic, genre-pastiche way that is typical in today's mashup world), the music settles into a midtempo rut. Personally, I would have found this album a lot more exciting if they had run with the energy they established in the opening. As it stands, We Are Your Friends is an above average pop album that starts off with promise, but fails to live up to it.