After a couple of months with the album, it's almost a grade A album for me. And, thinking of it that way, that's at least 90%, or more than 4.5/5... since we might as well round, I bumped this up from 4/5 to 5/5. It's not a perfect album, but it's just too good to keep down!
"Realize it's not the sun... realize I'm on your side (it's the sun, it's the sun)"
This is by no means a perfect album, however it shows what I see as a lot of promise and has some very high points. I'll base this review with some element of expecting that the average reader will be previewing the tracks, so... track by track, out of 5 stars (keeping in mind that I don't give many 5/5 lest I dilute the value of such a score and/or devalue the other scores with such use of hyperbole):
1. Realize it's Not the Sun (4/5): great intro to the album and actually one of the better songs on the album. Actually, for an intro, it's hard to ask for much more. The preview gives a pretty good representation of it.
2. Last Minute (3.5/5): a bit driving and flows well from the previous track. It's a good track but not the best. Although the ending in itself wouldn't be so bad if attached to another song, the fact that I find it eerily reminiscent of Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" just makes me think it doesn't fit so well. The preview on this one is a good representation as well.
3. Sails(3.5/5): starts out ok and ends even better. Of course the "starts out ok" part of that comment is exactly what you hear in the preview so you don't really get to experience with that why this is such a good song. I guess it's just the "this violation, somehow doesn't matter so much" that makes this so good.
4. True Loves (4.5/5): I'll admit that at first I was absolutely (and, in hindsight, disturbingly) ambivalent to the title track. However, time has taught me that this may very well be the best track on the album; on that note, the preview does it absolutely no justice. Since you CAN find the video for this, I'd suggest you DO. (although, on that note, you can listen to the entire album in a free and legal manner elsewhere, so that'd probably be a good option, too).
5. Same (3/5): this is the real first flashback to the 80s on the album. It's a pretty good track and, despite the fact that I've already once had to listen to it on repeat as a result of it being stuck in my head, it's not the best on the album. Check out the preview to get a pretty good feel for the song (and to reminisce about the 80s, of course).
6. Hotel (4/5): the biggest flaw to this song is that it starts out much weaker than it really is. The silver lining on that is, of course, that it allows it to really build into something great (as opposed to just throwing all of it in your face from the get go). This song has an interesting hollow/airy/tinny sound to it (which, in hindsight might explain some of the Surfer Blood comparisons? maybe? still thin comparisons though), but it actually works very well. The preview of this song, unfortunately, doesn't do the full track justice.
7. No Love (5/5): ahh, and the second flashback to the 80s on the album (this one would be late 80s, early 90s). Despite the title track's best efforts to take a place in my mind as the best track, "No Love" has from the first listen remained my favorite track on this album! Sure, musically speaking it's for somewhat shallow reasons, namely catchy hooks. However... those hooks sure are catchy! :) And, yes, I mean hookS in the plural form. You get to listen to the first one in the preview but they cut out the second one. The one small complaint I have is the structure of the song resulting in the catchy parts being bunched together, but that's nitpicking. This really IS a great song and... well, now I feel a need to listen to it!
8. Bring Us Closer Together (1/5): the third flashback to the 80s, but not in a good way. As much as I like the album, I really dislike this song. "Hate" is a word I don't like to throw around, so I won't say I hate it. But, it's a strong dislike. The melody in it sounds almost directly from something from my childhood (i.e. the 80s) that I can't quite place my finger on. Honestly, it sounds like the theme song to an 80s buddy movie. The worst part about the preview is that you hear none of what I'm referring to in it; that preview highlights the ONE good part of the song. Ah, if only this was a loop of those 30 seconds I wouldn't have to skip it...
9. Pulling Back (n/a): if the 40 second duration on it didn't give the clue to the obvious, then I'll just state it. This is a transition/filler track. As long as I'm skipping "Bring Us Closer Together," this one gets skipped, too.
10. Black Trees (3.5/5): it's quite repetitive ("over and up, until I'm under an exit sign" or something like that) but Hooray for Earth does a good job of flirting with being too repetitive while not actually being too repetitive. And, because of that, this actually makes for very good ending track to tie up the album.
In all, I think the best indicator of the quality of this album is something I hinted at early. At the time I'm writing this review, Hooray for Earth allows you to listen to the whole album for free (thanks to that good ol' 'my space' thing); that may change, but for now that's the case. Despite that I could save my money on the album and just freeload, I'm completely satisfied with the fact that I bought it. Not only that, I'm very happy I did and think anyone who likes good music and who can appreciate the sound should, too! I don't think this will go down as one of my all time favorites, but that doesn't mean this isn't a very good effort. And, hey, I'm already looking forward to what might be coming from them next! ^_^
p.s. as a preemptive measure: the lyrics I've quoted may be off. I got the mp3 download and didn't get a digital booklet with it. So, without that and with a search for the lyrics coming up all but empty... I can't be certain of what they're saying all the time!