Sits down with cup of coffee, scratches head, tries to figure out how the hell to review this album objectively, candidly and above all else, truthfully. Well here's a clue, check out my title of this review. Exactly. Those of you who live in Republic Of Ireland (and maybe the UK?) will know exactly what i'm referring to with it. For everyone else... lets say it's Saturday night. You're looking forward to a night on the tiles after your average run-of-the-mill crappy week. You approach a bar/nightclub sober as a judge and the doorman very unpolitely utters those immortal words.
That's pretty much how I feel about this album. It's like I'm trying to gain access to this highly exclusive club, trying through numerous listens like i've been instructed to (havn't you heard? You need to listen to it TEN times to "get it"). While i'll certainly agree that great music is worth striving for, does it have to be at the expense of mild suffering (don't shoot me!)
Upon reading numerous reviews on this highly controversial album, it seems as though it has this rabid hardcore following that if they see or hear ANYBODY speaking ill of this daring piece of work they'll slap you on the wrist, tell you you're a bold boy, and send you to bed without any supper. Very sensitive bunch. Maybe it's a sign of the times but i've seen people handing out cyber DEATH THREATS over a show called The Wire. Apples and oranges I know, just using it as an example of some peoples fanboyism (yes I used the "F word).
Onto the songs and everything else. "Frownland" opens it up and straight away everything you've come to know about "normal" music will kick in and tell you to NOT like it. This is where peoples opinions/theories etc get interesting. You see this albums style is like nothing you've ever heard of. Take "Back In Black" by AC/DC for instance. Compare this side by side with "Frownland" and you get two types of music totally at odds with each other, when you look up the meaning for "Opposite ends of the spectrum" these two songs will come up. One (Back In Black) is trying to tie you into the groove, that perfect kick/snare/high-hat pounding groove that you simply MUST dance to. It's catchy music done to a tee.
Now back to "Frownland", "Dachau Blues", (a brilliantly sinisterpiece of songwriting), "Pachuco Cadaver", "Bills Corpse", and numerous others of it's ilk. They take melody, harmony and everything we've become accustomed to regards popular music and turn it on it's head. At first it feels like your ears are being raped, but here's my point. I was listening to a Jamie T song about a year ago called "Salvadore". The song had reached it's pre-chorus and after a certain chord/lyric I was certain it was going to go up a key, it didn't and at first I was horrified. "That sounds awful, why didn't he do what he was supposed to do....SUPPOSED to do. Since when did music become bound by rules? Suffice to say that by this stage i've grown fond of the segment/song, and it's all down to informing my brain that "no it's going to stay in the same key remember". It's accepted the change, much like people are arguing about within these hallowed comment sections, you have to abandon EVERYTHING you're used to, put in the grind, and you'll get your rewards (more on this theory later).
The album does have innovations, skits for example. We all know them from rap albums, Eminem relies heavely on them for comic relief/shock value. Much like Wu-tang Clan, Dr.Dre etc. This man (Captain Beefheart) pioneered the idea, they're very sketchy but hey, they're the first of their kind. If you want to know if there's ANY conventional songs to be found on this double (yes originally DOUBLE) album, then i'd have to say the only one that seems worthy to be digestable by Joe public would be....."Moonlight On Vermont", and that would be pushing it. Another thing to mention are the "poems" included here and there, purposely badly recorded (you can hear each section ending by a loud sound and being spliced together) another welcome twist, but they do get a bit tedious.
Back to my earlier comment regarding repeated listening offering rewards. This statement holds some creedence but let me make one thing clear. Lets say you lock me in a room and continuosly play Justin Bieber or One Direction (an artist and boyband I cannot stand) or constant re-runs of the god-awful X Factor for days on end, your brain would have two options. Either go insane or formulate a way to maintain your sanity by FORCING yourself to enjoy it. That's the feeling I get from this album, if I keep banging my head off the brick wall it might crumble, and that to me is the dealbreaker. I'm not enjoying it after 5 or 6 listens so f*** it i'm giving up. The three star review is for it's originality, daringness, scope, and for a clutch of songs/skits/poems which I actually do enjoy listening to.
1.Go in with an open mind, you're not going to get 4/4 beats/love songs etc.
2.Make up your own mind, don't be bullied by the abundance of over the top fanboys skulking round here.
3.Listen to it in two sittings, it was a double album back in the good ole' days of vinyl.
That's it folks i'd say get it as it's without doubt an interesting listen, just don't be suprised if the bouncer stops you at the door.