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9
4.1 out of 5 stars
Personality: One Was A Spider. One Was A Bird
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2006
OK, so debut album 'Lovers' was always going to be a hard act to follow but maverick songwriter Luke Steele has pretty much succeeded. `Personality...' is certainly no carbon copy of the first album and has very much its own sound so those expecting 'Lovers' Mark II may be disappointed. However, treat this album as a work in its own right and it is hard not to be impressed by the lush, multi layered hooks and melodies which never let up from start to finish. I have to admire Steele for what he has tried to achieve here, attempting to make the ultimate 'melodic' record bursting with harmonies, string sections, et al. It is an ambitious concept and sound that could easily have fallen flat on its face.

Admittedly, there are a couple of tracks which just do not work and the production is overdone. Also, lyrically the album is a bit below par in places and perhaps suffers for it. BUT despite these criticisms, `Personality...' is a collection of excellent songs which gel together to from one of the albums of the year.

Buy `Personality...' and give it several listens with open ears and you may be pleasantly surprised. Don't expect it to be an instantly easy listen, it definitely requires repeated plays to pick through the vast musical activity but the rewards are well worth it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2006
Even before you've heard the first glacial notes of The Sleepy Jackson's second album, it is clear they are no longer the quirky outfit of 2003's 'Lovers'. The ghastly cover art and cryptic name are already miles away from that album's messy sleeve scribbles and snappy title. In the actual music, though, this new-found indulgence helps create a few moments of utter brilliance (and, thankfully, there are no extreme delves into pretentiousness here). The album's opening clutch of songs are beautiful, string-laden gems which hit the perfect mark for a follow-up album: grander, denser, but also catchier. Gorgeous opener 'You Needed More' may occasionally hint of that dullest of second-album subject matter - life on tour ("we play the same songs in every town"), but they've taken the winning songwriting formula of 'Lovers' but turned it into an uplifting orchestral pop beauty: hushed strums give way to strings which sweep its chorus to new heights.

First single 'God Lead Your Soul' continues the good streak, its stop-start chorus fanfared by a grand brass section. It's adventurous, engaging and very, very pretty, with Beach Boys 'oohs' and 'aahs' everywhere. In fact, one of 'Personality''s main downfalls is that this overt influence can get tiring. Tracks like 'Higher Than Hell' and 'You Won't Bring People Down In My Town' seem to disguise their lack of ideas by being comprised solely of said ooh-ing. As the album detaches itself from the head-rush of the opening tracks, these more unmemorable songs seem to merge into one big blob of falsetto 'n' strings, only saved by the memorable choruses of 'Work Alone' and 'God Knows'. It's hard not to listen to in one go without getting bored, and though the new sound is a new step for the band, the album lacks the variety of its predecessor. You begin to long for the country twang of 'Lovers'' 'Come To This', which only pop up once on the sweet highlight 'Miles Away'.

Unlike 'Lovers', which had a number of styles with a high success rate, the most notable strays from the template on 'Personality' are commendable but often unbearable. The horriblly cheesy 'Play A Little Bit For Love' and 'I Understand What You Mean But I Just Don't Agree' are the worst offenders, with its disco-lite basslines drifting uncomfortably into overblown MOR territory. At worst, it sounds like a serious Scissor Sisters. Luckily, these two are the only times when the album's main problems really turn unpleasant, but for an album so overtly willing to step it up a notch, it's annoyingly samey. Luke Steele and his ever-rotating band may soon turn in their fully coherent masterpiece but, for all its pomp, 'Personality' is often devoid of the charm which made 'Lovers' such a treat, the flashes of magic only making it more frustrating.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2006
After watching them live in a small Bristol club in 2003, I fell in love with the Sleepy Jackson. The mini-album, released that same year, featured 8 of the most perfect songs and provided promise and excitement for the release of the full length album later that year. When 'Lovers' was released, it was a wonderful - if not confusing - album. But as any Luke Steele fan will know, this was totally in line with the bands state of mind. The varying styles of each song made it difficult to listen and love the entire album.

Now comes 'Personality...', and what an absolute stunner this is. 13 tracks, all going in the same direction but still never lacking in invention. 'You Needed More' kicks off the album perfectly and is followed by 5 near perfect tracks, 'Work Alone' being the album highlight. Everything right down to the artwork feels right, making this the ultimate summer/fall album for 2006.

Any other year it would go straight to my number 1 spot, but unfortunately for the Sleepys, Howe Gelb released the best album since 'The Queen Is Dead'.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Based upon the many reviews I've read , their previous album the excellent "Lovers" , and quite possibly my own warped dreams and perceptions I was expecting the new Sleepy Jackson album to be some sort of heavenly , halcyon inducing trip to aural nirvana. Dream pop if you like, a cross between "Pet Sounds", "Revolver" and Wins "Uh Tears Baby" (one of the greatest pop albums ever folks). Imagine my surprise to discover that "Personality " to give it an abridged name, is more like a wander through the "Magic Kingdom" at "Pleasure Island" than a heart skipping twirl at light speed round planet pop.

On the surface it's all gaudy colours and plump marshmallow facades but peel back that pristine eye catching epidermis and it's just spindly framework and frantic head less chicken activity effectively creating a mirage of opulent beauty and glistening Shangri La. Enough with the metaphors now, what I'm saying is that while "Personality "may boast a cast list as long as "Spartacus", including an orchestra, the end result is often disappointingly prosaic. Luke Steele may have had the tools at his mercurial disposal but far too often on the album there is nothing for then to get their collective teeth into. Too many songs drift by in a perplexing diaphanous haze of cloying strings, plucked notes on guitar, gauzy keyboard/piano. Backing vocals drift in and out and maybe back in again but fail to wrap a hook into the synapses. Too much of "Personality "fails to lodge itself in the brain, in short "Personality" lacks a significant personality.

On first listen absolutely nothing stands out. The whole album meanders by in a gossamer melange of cloying arrangements and Steele's acute high range vocals. Further listens reveal that some of the songs do offer a vicarious pop thrill, but these thrills are still too few and far between and no where near vivid enough. "Work Alone", an ironic title given Steele's cast of thousands approach is typical, all lustrous shiny arrangement but with no depth or irreducible melody to get your teeth into. "You Needed More" which opens the album should have heeded its title as it floats wispily (but pleasantly enough) by. "Play A little Bit For Love" is so sugar coated I put on three pounds just listening to it. "Dream On " sounds like New Seekers or Brotherhood Of Man, so oleaginous it leaves a trail as it gloops out of the speakers. " You Won't Bring People To My Town" is another sticky confection devoid of a decent tune.

Yet for all that stick with the album and there is enough on "Personality" to make it worthwhile sifting through the less palatable fare. The albums middle section is superb with "God Knows" (nod to the Beach Boys there) the brilliant Prince like "I Understand What You Want But I Just Don't Agree", the lilting "Miles Away" and the gleefully harmonic "Higher Than Hell" justifying Steele's vision alone. Furthermore there are the sumptuous Eastern flavoured strings of "Devil Was In My Yard" and the euphoric harmonies and sashaying strings Of "God Lead Your Soul". The relatively stripped back final track "How Was I Supposed To Know" benefits from a more self-possessed string arrangement.

The fact remains that nothing on "Personality" approaches the brilliance of a track like "Acid In My Heart" from "Lovers" for effortless pop magnificence. Too much if this album, as I've intimated is over egged and mired with over produced indulgence. It seems out the two personalities on show here, the spider too often has triumphed, holding the songs earthbound with tacky tangles of webbing instead of letting them take flight and really soar.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I've been a huge Sleepy Jackson fan for a few years now. I bought their self titled debut EP, the 'Caffeine in the Morning Sun' EP and the 'Let Your Love Be Love' EP. These were all lo-fi, sometimes experimental, but always brilliant pieces of work, effortlessly jumping across genres.

Then their debut album 'Lovers' came out and it exceeded all expectations. It was so strong: almost any song from that album could have been picked as a single. Some of the many highlights were: This Day, Come To This, Miniskirt, Vampire Racecourse, Acid in My Heart, Don't You Know....there really wasn't one second of filler on there. So many instantly catchy and memorable melodies, it sounded like a greatest hits album. And to be fair, it did feature tracks from earlier eps, so to a certain extent it was.

And now this. On first listens, its instantly recognisable as the Sleepy Jackson. It's a much lusher, more polished sound, the harmonies are perfect, and there's some nice strings on some tracks. Which is all very nice, but after my first listen, there wasn't one melody I could pick out.

I've given it several listens, and there are a few nice tracks: 'You Needed More', 'Devil in My Yard', 'I Understand What You Want'. But none of these even approach the brilliance of the Lovers tracks. Worse still, a lot of the album seems very wishy washy, the kind of music you'd have on as background noise. And all in all, lacking in 'Personality'.

So all in all I'm very disappointed by it. I hope the next one will be a return to form, as its clear to me that Luke Steele is an incredibly talented chap who can produce far far better music than this.
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I loved Empire of the Sun and wanted to listen to Luke Steel when he was in Sleepy Jackson, I was impressed with this CD I loved a few tracks and would recommend this to any fans out there.
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on 21 March 2014
Bought this subsequent to 'Empire of The Sun' latest album whilst it not quite as refined it certainly doesn't disappoint.
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on 14 August 2010
An album that Arcade Fire only wish they could make.
When is the new one coming Luke? I've been waiting too long.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2006
While Lovers was a mixed bag of styles Personality is a pure pop classic. Luke Steele has stuck to his conviction and made a bold and uncompromising record. Each track is rich in harmonies from the opening You Needed More through to the strings of the closing track How Was I supposed to Know , it grows with every listen.
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