The Sounds: Something To Die For

The Sounds’ new album is exactly that. It’s something to dance to, something to think about, something to get your hands on as quickly as possible, and something to help you create mayhem. It invokes all the right things about new age music while maintaining modern and fresh melodies.

Their tracklist is jam-packed with well-conceived tunes. The album is near-perfect. There isn’t a weak track on this album. You can put it on while getting ready to go out and it will hype you up. You can play it when you’re bored and you will perk up. It’s functional in practically any situation where you need a pick-me-up.

The album begins with “It’s So Easy” full-blown bass and drum attack on your ears that builds until it peaks with the lyrics “It’s so easy when you know how it’s done/ You gotta seize the moment before it’s gone” which repeats as the tone lightens into an upbeat mini-track. This delectable little opening transitions smoothly into “Dance With the Devil” which actually uses the same theme and riff in its intro, making a two-part masterpiece of new age bubblegum. “Dance With the Devil” has an updated “Phantom of the Opera”-esque verse, which leads into a domo arigato bridge that will put Mr. Roboto to shame, and finally you get to the keyboard/guitar-heavy and delightfully jumpy chorus. Please, please, PLEASE listen to these songs with your MP3 player’s bass boost on or some equivalent setting. It will enhance the experience like you have no idea. Your mind will = BLOWN. You will have to pick up the pieces wherever they fell. And once you do you will listen to them all over again.

Once you’ve had your fill of those, you can progress to “The No No Song.” The title is quite literal. It’s a big “f*ck you” song. With lyrics like “‘Cos I’ve had enough/ It’s not me/ It is you!” This song makes me feel better every single time I want to tell somebody they suck at life and should really just get lost somewhere far, far, away where they can’t spread their suckiness to the general public. It’s a pop-punk rocker’s anthem start to finish.

“Better Off Dead” was the lead single from the album. It’s brash and bold. It’s non-apologetic in both sound and lyrics. This is the most dance-worthy track on the album and it begins with the words, “Tell me why don’t you kill me?/And put gun against my head./I’m better off dead.” It’s a dance track begging for love. And because it’s so demanding on your ears, you will undeniably give your love to it. And maybe your sex. Because it’s just way too sexy for you to hold back. Why are sex and death always paired up? Not that I don’t think it makes for a perfect song like this one. I’m just musing about it now. After all, sex is so good. Why spoil it with thoughts of being six feet under? And, speaking of death… I find it funny how this was not one of their two songs chosen for the Scream 4 soundtrack, especially because I think it’s more appropriate than “Yeah Yeah Yeah.”

“Diana” follows it. Think of it as the “Roxanne” of the 2010s. It has all the right elements- a Sting & The Police reggae-rock vibe, the repetition of a girl’s name with lyrics describing her unabridged and very uninhibited sexual conduct in a longing, lusty voice, and amazing guitar riffs.  And yes, Maja sings it so you get the added bonus that it’s a lesbian theme song. Go girl power!

“Something to Die for,” the title track comfortably placed in the middle. This was the second single from the album. It, too, is edgy. It’s pretty obvious that The Sounds are using their material to best achieve buzz about the album. With two very forceful tracks to reckon with the only thing you can do is pick up the album and take a sampling. If nothing else, pure curiosity will drive you there. Personally, this is not in the top of my favorite tracks on the album. As a fan, this sound familiar territory. The other tracks took greater risk. This resembles “Tony the Beat” (from Dying to Say This to You) but the chorus isn’t as memorable.

“Yeah Yeah Yeah,” like “The No No Song” will not win any awards for most creative song title of the year, but it should win awards for its content. This song is one of my personal favorites on the album. It has a catchy little flute melody running through it, as well as cowbell. Christopher Walken would be proud. It’s kind of funny however, since it’s one of the more upbeat songs on the album and yet it has the lyrics “I like that you can slow down…” Go figure.

“Won’t Let Them Us Apart” has a chant and answer format. This will be the audience participation piece when they perform live. And their live performances can get pretty fun. It’s one of their rockier records and it shows their versatility. However, if I was going to throw a track under the bus, this would be it. It doesn’t mesh with the others. It kills the flow just because it is so different from the remainder of the album. To be fair, I will sum it up to a placement issue rather than selection issue. It may have been better positioned next to “Wish You Were Here.”

“The Best of Me” is the most melancholy piece on the album, but it could be the defining piece. Think Muse, but with female vocals and an 80s influence. It’s the most sincere lyrically, posing a question for us to ponder.  Why do we lose hope and become jaded as we age? Why is the loss of innocence so sad? With experience we really shouldn’t lose a sense of ourselves. The chorus really hits these feelings on the head with, “‘Cos we’re still young but we are getting older./ Our hearts are still warm but they are getting colder.”

And finally, we get to “Wish You Were Here.” The Sounds made an interesting choice by closing the album with a low-key acoustic piece. It’s humble but beautiful because it’s stripped down to the bare bones. The raw, coffeehouse essence suits them just as well as the bar/club scene. They really create music that connects to you, no matter where you choose to wander.

Panic! At the Disco: Vices and Virtues

While the loss of three band members probably set off widespread panic for some devoted fans, it evidently did not damage P!ATD all too much. Vices and Virtues is a return to form for the remaining duo. The last album released by P!ATD, Pretty. Odd, was in fact, an oddity. With Vices, it’s almost as if they rebooted a series.

First off, this album demands that the listener sit through it start to finish. You will not fully appreciate the work if you skip around. It uses intermittent interludes at the end of certain tracks to bridge the gaps in chord changes, allowing a smooth listening experience. If you do choose to browse through the album, however, there are two highlights for this album that are exceptionally fun.. These are “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” and “Sarah Smiles.” They are both very different in sound but they are an overview of the themes within the album.

Urie and Smith actually start the album with “The Ballad of Mona Lisa,” originally written before Pretty. Odd., and now used as the first single for this project. It scores a haunting melody over their usual heavy bass and guitar riffs.  This sets-up the direction they take for the remainder of the album. It begins with the music box ditty. Urie then enters with “She paints her fingers with a close precision.” The poetic lyrics continue to describe our heroine/anti-heroine until we get to a heart-thumping “Say What you mean!/Tell me I’m right!/ And let the sun rain down on me!” If you thought at that point you’ve reached the height of the song you’re mistaken.  It reaches a higher level with its pop-punk head slamming riffs on the chorus, “Whoa! Mona Lisa, you’re guaranteed to run this town!” It follows this pattern for the next verse-bridge-chorus triplet, then diverts to an altered bridge that drops the bass and drums until it hits the final chorus. Once I’ve reached the end of this track, you’re hooked.

“Sarah Smiles” is actually the second to last track on the album (unless you get the Deluxe Edition). It starts with an accordion and transitions into acoustic guitar and the lines, “I was fine just a guy living on my own./Waiting for the sky to fall./Then you called and changed it all, Doll.” We already know this is mellowed love song. It’s bass-happy tune gets more lovable as it progresses. You will put your guard down for the bridge’s sentiment, and then suddenly Wham! you’re hit with the ever-so-catchy chorus of “Sarah smiles like Sarah doesn’t care./She lives in her world so unaware./Does she know that my destiny lies with her?/Oh, Sarah./ Are you saving me?” Cue trumpets and second verse.

And those are only two in a list of fantastic songs. This album is near-perfect in its construction. It has everything you would need from them: an up-tempo happy-go-lucky beat in “Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind),” a slow acoustic ballad, “Always,” the darker side of synth in  “Let’s Kill Tonight” and “Hurricane,” and the shout-it-out-loud anthem “Memories.” That’s not to say the remaining tracks are anything less than good.

“Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)” is pure drum driven joy. With very small traces of A Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran” in the guitar and a variety of playful synthesizer overlay, we get a summer theme song in the works. This song will be blowing out speakers once it’s released as the second single in April. Hopefully the video will be as thrilling as the one for “The Ballad of Mona Lisa.”

Heart-felt sentiment and sincerity are the only two words that truly explain the track “Always”. It’s a bittersweet ode to one’s love. Unlike the rest of the songs on the album, this one is played-down. The orchestral instruments like the horns and strings get far much more attention here than they do as background for the rest of the album.

“Let’s Kill Tonight,” “Hurricane,” and “Memories” all showcase the charm and charisma that P!ATD had back in A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. The lyrics aren’t as full of quip, but they manage well enough. “Let’s Kill Tonight” is Gothic from start to finish. It’s atmospheric sounds will make your hair rise and your feet dance.  Amazingly enough, I can probably list this song alongside Evanescence in my Moody Days Mix. It’s not as dark by any means, but it’s ethereal in its own way. “Hurricanes,” likewise hearkens to No Doubt’s “Return of Saturn” and early “Rock Steady” days.  It has a punkier and mild ska vibe to it. And “Memories” has moments where I see definite similarities to Kelly Clarkson’s style. There’s a touch of “My Life Would Suck Without You” in the progression with the mood and frustration of “Since U Been Gone.” The bravado in the chorus, “Oh, memories, where’d you go?/You were all I’ve ever known./ How I miss yesterday./How I let it fade away” is perfect for your angst ridden days.

All comparison’s aside, the album is different from most music out on the market. This not your typical alternative/punk band. They have much more variety in their instrumentation, their lyrics could belong in the Romantic era, and Urie’s singing is far from the whiny, irritating sound we all have sadly gotten used to in this genre of music.

With all this said and done, the album is worth the price you pay. It’s well-composed, the production is clean and crisp, and the booklet it comes with is incredibly beautiful. If you order it on their Official Site, you can even get bundle packages with special tour merchandise. You get high quality all the way around with P!ATD’s latest release. Check it out if you can.

Dirty Pop: Songs That Currently Engage My Earbuds

Here is yet another post dedicated to listing my current music intrigues. You will see some new faces and some familiar ones from past posts, however, every song and artist I list here is worth at least one listen. Consider it a lesson in opening your musical taste buds… if your ears could taste.

Note: They are in no special order.

Panic! At the Disco – The Ballad of Mona Lisa

Even though Panic! At the Disco lost three of its original members, lead singer Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith managed to pull together a new album. The first single, “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” retains some of the charm for which the band is typically known (a so-called Baroque Pop sound) and plenty of new and rejuvenating traits as well. It’s nice to see the new music video features the same Steampunk and Victorian garb as their previous stuff.

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