We're Here With You has the honour of being the first album I heard mostly live before the actual release of the album. Since falling in love with their debut album `Death Before Analog', I've seen Julien-K perform twice in London and highly anticipated their second album. Finally 2012 sees the release of it after several delays and teases, and like their previous album it's already tipped to become my favourite album of the year. Despite being a lot smaller than their previous album (only 10 tracks with no additional remix CD) and moving away from their industrial rock sound, the album is still a great follow up.
1. We're Here With You
The album opens in a similar manner to the previous; We're Here With You takes its time to build up the guitars, keyboard and drums before Ryan's voice punches through, and when you hear how high his voice goes within seconds of his voice entering - you know the band means business! The shouted lines of the chorus is rather sporadic, making it hard to sing along with or get into the flow of the song at first but the opener is nevertheless very energetic and great way to start the album.
2. Surrounded By Cowards
The next song taps into the more electronic sound that will dominate the latter half of the album but still keeps the guitar quite prominent so flows from the previous track quite nicely. Ryan again shows his confidence and growth in vocal power by singing quite high and sweetly in the verses. The melody is easy to grasp and sing along too, making the track quite likeable and catchy. Good song overall.
3. Cruel Daze of Summer
I heard this song back in 2010 when I first saw Julien-K live; I loved the live version of the song upon first listen and am now thrilled to have it available to listen to whenever I want. The song has a long opener with great guitar riffs and the piano/keyboard tune makes me want to clap my hands just as hard as I did when I was at the gig. The song is quite sad despite the upbeat melody and dance-y feel of it, creating a nice contrast. Ryan's vocals are like velvet over the brilliant music and as it clocks in just over 6 minutes it allows all the instruments to breathe but the time flies by. One of the best tracks on the album.
4. Breakfast in Berlin
Released digitally for free several weeks before the album release with a music video following after, Breakfast in Berlin has had more time to spin on my ipod and really grow on me. The drum beat and distorted guitars bring in a catchy beat before Ryan's auto tuned vocals name drop numerous cities as the song progresses. The track has an unconventional song structure (no obvious verse-chorus-verse arrangement) plus the heavy electronic sound to Ryan's vocals make the song hard to follow at first but the infectious hook of the `ah-ah-ahs' throughout the song will grip you from the start. The sexiness of the track becomes more prominent on repeat listens so I do recommended that if you're not sold on it the first play to give it a few more spins before judging, especially as it's the shortest track on the album so it stays around long enough to get you moving before we go onto...
5. Palm Springs Reset
The title makes me think of a Sonic the Hedgehog level - not surprising as the band have done work for the game series before. The song is probably the closest thing the band has done to a ballad; it's not like Forever or Maestro where the guitars and big vocal performances still keep it in the rock territory, Palm Springs Reset is instead very soft and sentimental. I love the lyrics and Ryan's voice really sells the romance side of the track, I'm especially keen on the small piano backing during the chorus - beautiful track and one of my favourites.
Track 6 opens on a similar mood set by the previous track but with a more trance sound. It's when we get to the chorus however that we see the song's true colours; the chorus is very upbeat and bouncy, almost like a summer rave club. The track is closest to the `pop' sound that many dub-step songs that today's charts have taken a liken to lately, but that doesn't make it a bad track. The song makes me wish it was the summer and with it dance feel I can see myself listening to this track a lot more when the weather warms up.
7. Close Continuance
We open up on a warped keyboard beat before Ryan's deep vocals take control of the song, I was initially excited for this track because I love it when Ryan uses his chest voice - it's why Nvr Say Nvr and Futura were among my favourites from their previous album, but by the chorus the song turns to a more upbeat track similar to Colorcast with extra guitars and less auto-tune. Due to the similarities compared to the previous songs I find myself tuning out halfway through it, one of weakest songs as it fails to stand out as much.
8. Nights of Future Past
Track 8 is another melancholy track similar to the vain of Palm Springs Reset but with a darker twist, breaking from the more upbeat sounds of the previous songs. I get Celldweller vibes from this tune, another artist I'm fond of, but Nights of Future Past isn't to be written off; the song is very thought-provoking with the great lyrics, brilliant melody and the echo-y effect added to the bridge creating a haunting effect to the song. A very strong track.
9. Flashpoint Riot
Nearing the end of the album we welcome back the rock vibe with really gritty, grungy guitars and the keyboard working its way up to the highest note it can reach. Once the riff kicks off, the keyboard goes a bit mental during the song, hitting various sound effect buttons along the way such as laser zapping. Ryan's voice is auto tuned again but it's during the chanting chorus that really gears the energy of the track into maximum. I can really picture football fans shouting out the chorus to their supporting team during a match - it has that big commanding energy that I can see getting the crowd going at Julien-K's next gig. Great song!
10. I'll Try Not to Destroy You
The title of the song really intrigued me before I even heard it and the track doesn't disappoint; the album ends on a softer track drenched in the electro and trance prominent across the album. With Ryan's soft vocals and downbeat of the track the song is very hypnotising, dark and slightly depressing but it what makes it such a beautiful song to end the album on. The keyboard melody, again, catches my ear in between Ryan's singing, and really sells me on it. It's a lovely song to end the album on.
Julien-K could've played it safe and stuck with the industrial/synth rock sound they have most experience with within Orgy, or gone the alternative rock route like their other project Dead by Sunrise with Chester, but they didn't. The decided to build on what they learnt from Death to Analog and go the more electronic route with pop and rock elements to wrap up the whole package, and it really works. All the songs are very well crafted, flow brilliantly into one another and the production is spot on, I may not like every track on the album but I can't deny that each song is lovingly made. If you're new to the band I do recommend listening to their debut to get where the band has come from and how they're progressed to `We're Here With You', plus the debut arguably has more of a variety in content. If you loved `Death to Analog' then you need to check out this album, it may not be as heavy on rock that some fans may prefer but the content is still Julien-K, still brilliant, and very much `Album of the Year' material.