Despite the hype, I just can’t get into these three albums. Am I still a good person?
The National — Trouble will Find Me
Roger Ebert style rating: *shrug*
A commenter on their acoustic NPR Tiny Desk concert summed it up perfectly: “Why don’t I like the studio tracks as much as I like this?” The rare acoustic set was soulful, well blended, not overstated. And neither is the album. The album is just musically repetitive and uninspired. Sometimes I like being lulled to sleep by a deep-voiced tenor doing mellow, slow music (eg The Smiths – Asleep— brilliant). But not this time. As soon as I remember that it’s on, I just want to turn it off. Silence is better.
Constructive criticism: Do more of the the acoustic, breathy vocal-driven stuff. And honestly “Sea of Love” is singable and bouncy, but when I see you perform it, I guess I just don’t believe you. That matters. For what it’s worth I still love “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and “Terrible Love” from back in the day.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Roger Ebert style rating: *begrudging eye-roll to their unexpected-yet-not-overwhelmingly-amazing-talent*
My friend summed it up pretty well. “They’re a band. They do music.” I get that they have intelligent lyrics, I get that they’re doing some experimental sounds while still keeping it palatable to the average young urban music fan. Others have said they’re MGMT wannabes. Maybe, but this doesn’t bother me. So synth-pop is a zeitgeist thing. So what? I respect them, I just don’t care about listening to or buying their music. And again, I might even like “Diane Young” when I hear it on the radio, but then I see them on SNL and I’m like, what? All that energy from the studio comes out like this when it’s live? Pretty disappointing.
Constructive criticism: Liven it up a bit. Get out of your English-major heads (said the Political Science major, English minor). Quit crafting the perfect image and sound and let down a bit. Get sweaty; take a risk.
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Roger Ebert style rating: *annoyed eye roll*
OK. So they’ve done some movies. That’s cool. So they haven’t done an album in like a million years. And they wear futuristic space suits with astronaut helmets on stage. Great. “Get Lucky” sounds like something from Boogie Nights. OK. But what they do is not new, and while it may be good, I just don’t think it lives up to the hype. It’s not really singable, and is eminently danceable, but so is Chingy. (DP is better than Chingy of course but I think my point stands). Rhythm and funk and lyrical repetition isn’t what it’s all about. I do understand why they’re selling albums like crazy, but I’m not sure it’s so critically sound as the charts make it seem.
Constructive Criticism — Do something that just can’t be spun in the hottest hippest Manhattan club. Do something that WON’T guarantee you a crazy awesome film soundtrack contract.
These albums will likely live on well past 2013, and maybe my kids will listen to them, and maybe they will like them. But right now I just don’t get it.