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Freezepop and The Decemberists




Looks like itís just me this week. Huh. Well, ainít no thang. This week we got two albums for you and theyíre very good albums on two polar opposite sides of the spectrum so pick your poison and dive in. The Decemberists and Freezepop. You really canít lose.

Album: The King is Dead
Artist: The Decemberists
Label: Capitol Records
Released: January 18, 2011
Genre: Rock
*Sub-genres Folk rock
Sounds like: A modern day mash-up of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan

Admittedly, I was a bit unprepared to review this album. The Decemberists will always be, for me, the band that made The Hazards of Love. If you donít know, The Hazards of Love is a rock opera and probably my favorite of them all. Thing about rock operas though is that they are rarely representative of what a band offers on a normal basis. And so, with The Hazards of Love in my mind, I approached this latest offering and that probably wasnít the best idea.

The King is Dead is extremely folks-y. Itís very folks-y and very country, and in that respect itís a fabulous album. Songs like Rox in the Box and Down By the Water are absolutely spectacular. They carry with them a sense of style, finesse, and composure that only a band like The Decemberists can convey. Upon first listen itís striking the sounds that the band so masterfully melds together; a strange sort of mix of contemporary country, traditional folk, and 18th century baroque.

The composition of the album is, as Iím sure you can tell, perfect. So we wonít spend much time finding different ways to say what has already been said. Instead, letís break some stuff down. Some of the great mainstays of the album are harmonica, acoustic guitar, and slow moving country slide guitar. It all comes together just as well as one would expect and is complimented by Colin Meloyís near angelic voice in the lead, bandmate Jenny Conlee, and guest musician Gillian Welch who contributes some truly powerful back-up vocals. Alongside these elements are the percussions which are surprisingly varied in sound.

Lyrically the album is so-so. For a Decemberists album there have certainly been better lyrics but songs like Down By the Water and June Hymn are still great examples of imagery and poetic skill.

Now, all in all, The King is Dead is a fantastic album with a great warm sound and exceptionally handled delivery. However, as a follow up to The Hazards of Love, the album does fall short of achieving that same level of ambition or dexterousness. However what The King is Dead lacks in ambition it makes up for in finesse.

Personal favorite tracks: Down By the Water, Rox in the Box, and June Hymn

[b]You can hear the whole album before release here.

TL;DR: A great album that does what it does flawlessly but doesnít quite match the brilliance of the bands previous outing The Hazards of Love.


Album: Imaginary Friends
Artist: Freezepop
Label: Archenemy Record Company
Released: December 7, 2010
Genre: Synthpop
*Sub-genres Awesome synthpop
Sounds like: Freezepop 2.0. Classic Freezepop with some Daft Punk and a hint of chiptune.

This review is long overdue. Freezepop is a band thatís close to a lot of our hearts. Something about Freezepop just really seems to resonate with the pacts of fun loving nerds out there. And it makes sense really. Itís taking the mundanity of life and coloring it with cold synth sounds. Itís that vision of the future weíve all fantasized about in countless futuristic films, television shows, and videogames.

Imaginary Friends is definitely a step in the right direction for the band, continuing that vision that weíve all seen the band uphold. Through the years the bandís sound has become more and more complex. Losing the minimalism of albums like Freezepop Forever and Fancy Ultra Fresh in favor of a wider range of sounds and a more club centric feel. In 2007 this shift resulted in Future Future Future Perfect, a wonderful album but one that seemed to begin to lose that cold emotionless edge that the bandís first two albums had. With Imaginary Friends that edge is back in full force and doesnít dismiss any of the lessons learned from the past 11 years. What results is what may possibly be the bands greatest album yet.

Songs like Magnetic, Lose That Boy, and Special Effects are unabashed synthetic joy. The bass is kicked up to the max, the charm doesnít hold back, and frankly a Freezepop album has never sounded this versatile before. Youíve got your space-y tracks like House Of Mirrors, your dance-y tracks like the aforementioned Lose That Boy, your weird charming tracks like We Donít Have Normal Lives, theyíre all just awesome.

The composition is spot-on. The best the band's done in my opinion. The percussion, while not nearly as complicated as some of the bands past works, works insanely well with the rest of the tracks. And the rest of the tracks on any song are simply delightful. From the synth sounds, to the studio work, to the spectacular performance from Liz Enthusiasm the album just has that sound that makes you want to blast the radio up, grab your nearest friend, and bedroom dance all night.

Lyrically, the album is just as charming as previous Freezepop albums. Songs like Lose That Boy, Magnetic, and Lady Spider are both written and delivered with the classic Freezepop with weíve all come to expect. Themes of the album like unfair relationships, spiders, hot air balloons, itís all pretty much fair game for a band like Freezepop.

So Iím sure youíve guessed by now but this album comes highly recommended. It is quite possibly Freezepopís greatest album to date and is a sign that even after a decade there are still places of their universe weíve yet to experience. Buy this album. Seriously.

Oh, and buy it from the official store. Coolest band store ever.

Personal favorite tracks: Lose That Boy, We Donít Have Normal Lives, Natural Causes, and House of Mirrors

TL;DR: Best of Freezepop yet. If you like good synthpop, buy it. Thrice.


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About Stereotoidone of us since 7:53 PM on 03.05.2010