on 13 September 2004
It is rare that I write reviews on CDs I've bought (and I buy A LOT), but I got this CD in the post yesterday and it is quite simply the best album I've heard in a long time. I absolutely love all the Marvelous 3 albums, and Left of The Self-Centred (Butch's first solo effort) was a good album but it was lacking something. It felt experimental and isn't half as good as Letters. The main appeal of Letters and the M3 albums is they are like whole albums of stand-out tracks- and nothing else. No fillers whatsoever- how many albums can you say that about!
"Letters" splits into two different types of song- firstly, there is the extremely catchy, kickass, play-me-loud rockier songs with really quirky tongue-in-cheek lyrics, as Marvelous 3 fans will be familiar with. These tracks are Maybe It's Just Me, #1 Summer Jam, Uncomfortalbly Numb, Don't Move, and Lights Out.
However, the other half of the album is something a bit different for Butch- these songs are heartwrenchingly sad, absolutely gorgeous ballads which we have never seen before from Butch, apart from the amazing "Cigarette Lighter Love Song" which is on M3's ReadySexGo album. These new songs are almost emo-ish (several are just Butch's voice and a piano). And you won't really realise until you listen to these songs, actually how good his voice is. It is beautiful, almost whispering at times, and will make you feel all shivery. These songs are So At Last, Joan, Best Thing You Never Had, Mixtape, Promise and Thank-You Note.
The wonderful thing is that Butch succeeds on doing both very different types of song, extremely well.
Here are my thoughts on the individual tracks-
1.) Sunny Day Real Estate- This is only an intro-type song which only lasts about 30 seconds, very pretty nonetheless. 9/10
2.) Maybe It's Just Me- This song is one of the damn catchy, upbeat ones on the album which sounds familiar instantly even though you've probably never heard it before. Great way to kick the album off. 10/10
3.) Mixtape- The first single. Brilliant!! It is really sad although not as raw-sounding as some of the other ballads. Great tune and lyrics. If you like this song, you will definitely love the rest of the album. My enhanced CD has the video for this and "Don't Move" on it too. 10/10.
4.) #1 Summer Jam- V catchy and uplifting- really cheers you up. Classic Marvelous 3-type song. 10/10.
5.) So At Last- haunting ballad.. absolutely beautiful 10/10
6.) Uncomfortably Numb- This song screams out "PLAY ME LOUD! PLAY ME LOUD!!" Again, it is dangerously catchy and makes you feel happy. It is seriously damn good. One of my faves on the album. 10/10.
7.) Joan- Very sad song about a girl who's had a really bad life. Butch's voice is amazing on this one. 10/10.
8.) Don't Move- this is the second single from the album. It quite slow but loud and rocky too. (hard to explain, but it's really cool). I love the lyrics of the chorus, "So baby don't move at all 'cause you're about to break my fall. Stay where you are, staring at the stars." 10/10
7.) Lights Out- the rockiest song on the album. Has a hell of a punch. Reminds me a bit of American Hi Fi. 10/10.
8.) Best Thing You Never Had- pretty ballad, catchy tune. Emoish lyrics, such as "Somehow my heart got lost on the way to my head and my brain cells are dead." 10/10.
9.) Race Cars and Goth Rock- This one is a bit different to the other tracks on the album- it is a bit country-and-western ish. Very catchy (I know I keep writing that, but ALL the songs are!), and has funny cheeky lyrics, like "And now you're in his house that's the size of a mall, I've never seen a grand piano look so f***ing small, you know it's probably one of many things that are small about him too." Hehe, I like that one. 10/10.
10.) Promise- This is my favourite acousticy ballad on the album. It is hopelessly romantic without being cheesy. It is simple but honest and Butch's voice is stunning. Wow. 10/10.
11.) Thank-You Note- Quite similar to Promise, this one's gorgeous too. 10/10.
There's also a hidden track but I don't know what it's called. It's very good though. 9/10.
I know I have given virtually all the songs 10/10 but that is honestly what they deserve. Butch Walker is an songwriting genius (he's also written songs for American Hi Fi, SR-71, Donnas, Bowling For Soup and Avril Lavigne) and Letters is the best work he has ever done. He just gets better and better- I can hardly wait for a third solo album already. If you love Marvelous 3 then you WILL adore this album. If you like alternative pop-rock with an edge (and Butch really does stand out amongst the others), such as Eve 6 and American Hi Fi, and sad songs such as Dashboard Confessional and Damien Rice, then you must get this album too. If you don't know anything about Marvelous 3, then get this album anyway. And then get ReadySexGo, Math And Other Problems, Hey! Album and Left of The Self-Centred.
If you love Butch, please do spread the word. Brilliant American music is so underrated especially here in the UK. He deserves to be heard.