(Universal Republic Records)
Lonely Island is a pretend band that creates hilarious online videos to match its equally witty songs. I am always somewhat skeptical when made-up bands put out a CD., and, while Incredibad does have such staples as “Jizz in My Pants,” “I’m on a Boat,” “Dick in a Box,” and “Natalie’s Rap,” the rest of the album is really only mediocre. “We Like Sportz” is definitely the class of the remaining songs, as long as you can enjoy something that is so terrible that it actually becomes good (you might even say the song is incredibad). All of these songs have a distinct pop/hip-hop feel yet still maintain the sardonic attitude so prevalent in all of The Lonley Island’s singles. The singles, which make fun of pop/dance/rap, are the best part of the album, but the rest fails to keep up the same mocking hilarity.
Andy Sandberg, the principle artistic mind behind The Lonely Island has managed to get a fair number of big-name collaborators. Norah Jones, Chris Parnell (on two tracks, no less), T-Pain, Jack Black, Natalie Portman, and Justin Timberlake all contribute to the album in one way or another. In fact, there are so many collaborations that I began to wonder whether Andy Sandberg was trying to cover up the fact that he had run out of truly original things to write.
I don’t think that this album really has staying power, and I suppose it was just a pipe dream to hope that Sandberg could keep up the magic of “I’m on a Boat” for an entire album. In the end, depending on how much you enjoy their YouTube sensations, this CD is worth a listen — just don’t set your expectations too high.
The Hazards of Love
Listening to The Decemberists will make you smarter. I have believed that for a long time. When you listen to them, you hear something that is half rock and half literature. This iteration shows a lot of growth in their overall sound but still retains much of The Decemberists’s novel charm. However, it does mark an interesting divergence in the overall feel of what long-time fans have known The Decemberists to be.
Before, they generally limited their narrative to miniature arcs, such as with “The Crane Wife” and “The Tain.” In The Hazards of Love, Colin Meloy takes that concept to its logical conclusion: He makes a story arc that spans an entire album. The greatest problem with this is that he suddenly becomes confined within his own narrative structure. Despite that, I believe this album is a resounding success. While I do miss the sounds of “The Crane Wife III” and “Here I Dreamt I was an Architect,” this album is The Decemberists distilled to its quintessence, and it truly shows their full potential. Where I expect something along the lines of typical, mellow, indie rock, The Hazards of Love shows some hard rock influences that weren’t in any of their other albums. It shows a bit of dynamism that I am used to hearing from their lyrics but not so much from their sound. “The Wanting Comes in Waves” is the best example of this, as it is an amazing musical fusion of hard rock and folk. This added sense of musical depth goes nicely with the added narrative depth.
This album is a nice mix of softness and sweetness with a good bit of rock and attitude. Hopefully, The Decemberists’s days of producing simple pop rock songs are behind them, and they’ll keep showing us their edgier side.
(Wall of Sound)
Röyksopp is back. With their slick, relaxing Scandinavian tracks, Röyksopp encourages relaxation. I find it hard to imagine somebody not enjoying their unique blend of cool sounds.
This album shows a clear divergence from their only hit in the United States: “Remind Me.” Instead of having the lyrics take center stage, Junior emphasizes rhythms. That said, there is a distinct techno feel to the entire album, so if you don’t enjoy a little technopop, then you should probably steer clear. “Happy Up Here” and “Tricky Tricky” are the two best tracks. “Tricky Tricky” features Röyksopp truly embracing their electronica/dance roots.
All in all, this is a really well-put-together mix of electronic beats and smooth styling. Röyksopp’s other albums are nice listen to while sitting back and enjoying a cold beer after a long day, and this album supplements that nicely. Everything comes together in a coherent manner, and the songs flow seamlessly from one to another.
If you really want something that you can sit down and chill to, this album is for you (and you might also want to check out the rest of Röyksopp’s discography).