Music Blog: Reviewing albums is tough

I’m more than happy to share my opinion, hell, I’ve built a site dedicated to it.  For some reason though, I can’t bring myself to give the Brand New album “Science Fiction” a proper review.

Unlike games or food and drink, I engage with music differently, depending on my mental state, and take it in, instead of actively participating in it.  It’s an activity that isn’t as physical as the aforementioned, and some days, I’m just not up to the task of mentally processing songs.

I know that at some point, the album will strike me, and unlock all of the treasure within.  It’s how it worked with Daisy, and even to an extent, how it worked with The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me.  But I’ve seen all this gushing online about the brilliance and the flourishes of excellence etc, and I’m just not seeing it.

I was ready to write it off, and chalk it up to being their worst album (shock horror!).  But then I was struck by a couple of songs on the new Linkin Park album and it completely re-adjusted my view of the whole thing.

I remembered why I love music, and why it’s not always easy to give a full review on an album without adequate time investment.

Feeling particularly melancholy, I was hit by the last two songs on “One More Light” and suddenly everything on the album “clicked”.  Say what you will about Linkin Park, and particularly their recent effort.  But you can’t take away the sincerity and genuine effort they put into their songs.

After all, isn’t it sincerity and genuine emotion that makes something worth listening to?

Think back to all your favourite albums and songs, how many of those “feel” real?  Not just to you, but from the artist/band?

To me, nothing is worth listening to if it isn’t real.  It’s why so much of what’s churned out by these “hit factories” is just quick flash in the pan to get money.  Mostly catchy and meaningless.  Sure, some singer-songwriter or band will occasionally have a hit, and that’s great.  I’m more inclined to enjoy their songs because I know that they’re “real”, or at least, they seem genuine.

As a teen it was easy, and the done thing to write-off “mainstream” songs, something I still get grief for saying, even now.

These days, it still applies, but not because something is popular or from an artist that I don’t enjoy (we are allowed to dislike things, just because we don’t like them, right?), but because I don’t believe that the people singing them, mean the words that they’re saying.  I don’t believe that they wrote it about a genuine personal experience, hell, I don’t believe that they wrote it at all.  Certainly not on their own, or just with their band.


Back to Brand New

So, what does this all have to do with Brand New?  Fact is, I’m struggling to believe any of it.  It feels contrived, and aimed at ticking a box to appease long-time fans.  But that’s not who Brand New are, I know that.

I know, I can feel it within myself that I haven’t listened to the album in the right frame of mind yet.  I know that I can’t listen to it passively and I can’t force myself into the place I need to be to give it the space in my head.

Sure, there are some catchy moments, and I definitely prefer the back-half of the album.  I’ve listened to it a lot, but I’m just not latching-on to it yet.

I don’t want to write-it off.  But am I just giving it more opportunity than it deserves, purely because it’s Brand New?  I have no idea.  All I know is that I haven’t been able to get into the headspace that it requires, and forcing it would make the experience as insincere as a Katy Perry song (seriously, have you heard her recent stuff?! Is she even trying to look like it isn’t all just about the money?).


Added trauma

The idea that this is my first “proper” album review, and the fact that it’s a Brand New album, is not lost on me.  In fact, I feel that it’s adding additional weight to my mental process.

Fact is, I don’t even think anyone will read it, and that’s a freedom that I enjoy with all my other write-ups.  Nobody is going to really care what I have to say or think.

That doesn’t shake the feeling of gravitas towards the task at hand though.  I don’t do it for anyone else, and I know I wouldn’t be satisfied with myself if I hadn’t given it the room it requires to breathe and be fully absorbed.

All this is to say that I’m not really digging “Science Fiction” at the moment, and I know it’s a grower that I’m sure to love, so I’m not forcing a review based on initial reactions alone.  It’s not fair to the review, it’s not fair to the album, and I only want to be as sincere and genuine as I expect all the music I listen to, to be.

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