Red Jumpsuit Falls; Lily Allen Flies
Review by Neil Thakor
Everyone knows that Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is like that kid in the corner everyone picks on. Its sophomore album “Lonely Road” justifies every reason as to why the band is handed so much ridicule. It is downright bad. After going platinum with its debut album “Don’t You Fake It,” one would think Red Jumpsuit Apparatus would develop its style of rock even more and create, at the very least, some decent music.
“Lonely Road” is nothing but a generic sounding imitation of other rock bands.
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus doesn’t kick off well with its lead single “You Better Pray.” The best way to describe the track is a screwed up version of something from Guns N’ Roses. The track starts off with guitar shredding that feels rather awkward, and leads into an even more awkward drawn out scream. To make matters worse, it is painfully clear that lead singer Ronnie Winter’s intro is an attempt to imitate Axl Rose.
What is truly sad is that “You Better Pray” is one of the better songs on the album. While the intro sends a loud message to skip the ballad, the rest of the track is not as bad. Although it is still boringly generic and lyrically dull, it can still pass as a decent track.
Unfortunately, the imitations don’t stop at the lead single – they are present throughout the album. “Lonely Road” has imitations of Guns N’ Roses, Angels and Airwaves, Jack’s Mannequin and more. It is almost ridiculous how much of an imitation “Represent” is of Something Corporate, an offshoot of Jack’s Mannequin. The voice, intonation and even the introduction is almost identical.
The true flaw in the track, however, is the chorus. After listening to this bland chorus, it is apparent how much the band lacks creativity. Winter sings, “Will you represent / Who you stand for / Will they shame you / Will they blame you /” in rather forced vocals. The combination of both the forced vocals and the generic four line chorus pushes away any interest the listener would have for the track.
Yet, when Red Jumpsuit Apparatus uses what creativity it does have, it is not a pretty sight either. “Pull Me Back” is evidence of that. While it starts out deceptively good with a toe-tapping guitar intro, everything the track has going for it is quickly diminished by the vocals. The low pitched vocals – if you can call them vocals – contrast so heavily with the upbeat guitar that it sounds like two different tracks.
While almost all songs on “Lonely Road” are bad, generic and probably a rip-off of some other band, the worst song by far is “Believe.” First of all, the lyrics are unoriginal. A prime example is the chorus, “And I still believe / there is more love than hate / more heart than ache / we are stuck in this great big world together.” The rest of the song doesn’t get any more creative.
Second, Winter has two levels as a vocalist on the track: flat and annoyingly high-pitched. Third, the chorus actually sounds like something Alicia Keys would be singing. The tune of the song more likely resembles an R&B song than a rock song (aside from the guitars.) Creativity is nice, but Red Jumpsuit Apparatus needs to know its limits.
The only song that actually sounds like a Red Jumpsuit Apparatus song is “Pen and Paper,” which sounds a lot like a song from its last album. Aside from the lack of creativity, it is, for the most part, a good song.
The reason is that Red Jumpsuit Apparatus does not try to push its talent to the next level, which ironically is the reason the band will never be anything more than that kid in the corner that everyone picks on. Everything on this track is safe. Winter does not push his vocals to an extreme high or low, and the guitars don’t try to overpower the rest of the track.
The bottom line is, while there are tracks on this album that can pass as decent, the album as a whole cannot. It is too generic, too poorly made and too outside the range of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Don’t buy this album. Don’t even waste time downloading it.
Lily Allen — “It’s Not Me, It’s You”
Review by Briana Kim
Lily Allen caught many people’s attention with her first album “Alright, Still,” which discussed many personal situations as well as her true feelings and opinions about them. Her second album, “It’s Not Me, It’s You,” also includes personal dilemmas with a fresh twist to her music. Although the music on this album has not changed to the point that it will disappoint old fans, the new sound has potential to draw in some new fans.
The album’s first single, “The Fear,” starts with gentle guitar plucking followed by Allen’s soft voice. It begins with a calm and slow tempo, then gradually shifts to a faster rhythm with the drum beat. It then transitions into a techno-like song with background vocals. Through “The Fear,” Allen explains how it is hard to distinguish between “what’s right and what’s real anymore.” The song is very enjoyable because her singing talent is able to shine through despite the techno background.
The opener, “Everyone’s At It,” is a unique song with different background noises. It begins with a piano and sirens with a catchy beat and instrumentals that are similar to The Killers.
“Everyone’s At It” points out how people should just be honest, and that the first step to tackling a problem is to admit that there is a problem. Allen uses examples about giving one’s daughter Prozac for her depression, even though the daughter is already taking crack.
“It’s Not Fair” starts off techno with a western guitar flare. Allen talks about the “almost” perfect guy, someone who treats her with respect and makes her feel secure. Although the guy appears to have all of these characteristics, she finds negative traits that outweigh the positive ones.
In the same song, Allen also talks about how she “spent ages giving head.” Although many singers in the pop industry might be hesitant to sing about such explicit content, Allen is one of those artists who is not afraid to speak her mind. She is truthful, and it feels as if she is telling people her stories through her songs, as if it were a conversation.
“22” is jazzy and begins with an organ playing. It then shifts to the strumming of a guitar and the snapping of fingers, then joined by Allen’s voice. Allen’s message is that happy endings are very unlikely. The example in “22” is about a woman, in which Allen sings, “It’s sad but it’s true how society says her life is already over.”
“I Could Say” is a soft, slow song that begins with piano playing and Allen’s soothing voice. When the chorus begins, a violin and clapping join in. Allen speaks of how she feels her life is better now that her guy is gone; as if she has been “let out” of a cage now that she is not with him.
A unique song on the album, “Back to the Start” begins with a very electronic sound, like sounds or beats you would hear from a video game, yet still very melodic. The message Allen is trying to convey is how she led someone on and is sincerely sorry for it.
Although Allen is a new pop artist in America, she is a diverse artist whose songs are very different from each other. What sets Allen apart from many other female artists is her brutally honest approach and ability to talk about sensitive issues and personal experiences.