on 29 July 2013
This stayed in my Amazon recommendations without being bought for a long time because the title and cover (while beautiful) suggested one of those emo-ish, self-indulgent albums, with no variety and only doom-and-gloom songs. I couldn't have been more wrong.
'Bye Bye Lullaby' uses fantastically varied subject matter, a mixture of fantasy and realist themes, strong, smoothly rhyming lyrics, and a singer with a powerful, soulful voice that brings out all the emotion and sass in the songs. Perfect for fans of Evanescence, Within Temptation, Delain and Nemesea.
'Armagedon' is a brilliant start to the album, and possibly my favourite. Energetic, in a sexy minor key and with a continuous, driving beat, it's maddeningly catchy. The surprisingly upbeat theme of this album makes even the prospect of an apocalypse positive: it's a song about survival, fighting together and being prepared, more about going into a fantasy battle than the end of the world.
'Fallen' is more mournful, though still driving and powerful with a fast, strong beat. It deals with personal failures and difficulties, and falling from great heights in both a physical and metaphorical sense. Like 'Armageddon', the effortlessly smooth rhymes alone make the lyrics memorable and satisfying. The instrumentals have a more dramatic, romantic feel to go with the subject matter, and the volume builds, drops and rises repeatedly.
'Unbreakable' is, as the title suggests, an inspirational anthem for those who feel put down, with the central lyrics: 'Whatever they tell you, we are not weak at all; baby, we're unbreakable.' It uses the major key and has an undeniably positive overall tone, without becoming sentimental or cheesy.
'I Dare You' is another inspirational song, though more personal (about the speaker's achievements in the face of adversity), advising those who are cowardly or materialistic not to follow the crowd but to fight for what they want. It's edgier than the ones before, with an energetic, slightly menacing minor key.
Yet edgier is 'Violently Peaceful'. It is one of the more aggressive songs, advising against corruption and 'sell[ing] your soul', though with an element of revelling in danger on the central lyric, 'Kiss me violently peaceful'. It has a strident minor-key melody (mostly), backing vocalists to increase the drama, and impressive performances from the backing instruments that built to a powerful climax.
'Meant to Last Forever' is the quieter, ballad-like song - every good album has one! - about failed love. Again, 'The Murder of My Sweet' avoids diving deep into black depression when dealing with a sad subject: the chorus has a theme of strength, with the words 'Do your worst, go on, come let it out on me', and the uplifting major key, backing vocals and build-up to the beautiful power of the final chorus gives it the feeling of a dramatic scene in a romantic film.
'Idolize' really stands out for its surprisingly upbeat, disco-ish melody. It uses a major key, a fast beat, a keyboard and various light, electronic instruments to give it a fun, energetic feeling, even slightly poppish. The theme is hero-worship, and how idolizing others can make us weak, when we should be loving ourselves instead.
'Kind of Lousy' is a casual, very realistic song, though still self-affirming, stating that, although the speaker is 'kind of lousy/crazy/clumsy/hasty', they're good enough and don't need to be perfect to be happy with someone. It's backed up with powerful electronic instruments, and still pretty edgy and very sassy.
'The One' has a sense of building tension, both in the lyrics, the growing instrumentals and increasing volume. It's about appreciation of a free, 'living on the edge' lifestyle, and being with a person who can make you feel excited. The main vocals are really powerful, and the whole song is thrilling.
'Resurrection' starts quietly and suddenly bursts into a loud, ominous minor key. The song has an overall menacing quality, though the theme is freedom from regret ('Don't blame me forever; the choice is my own'), and the bridge in particular makes use of an epic, video-game-reminiscent electric guitar. Again, there is a huge, majestic climax.
'Waiting for the 27th' introduces you to the new, unusual style of the final three songs: it's more fantasy-ish, and brings in the dark theme of the cover. But rather than depressingly dark, these songs have a witchy, halloweeny quality. 'Waiting for the 27th' is quiet and romantic, using classical backing instruments (like pianos and strings) and whispers from the backing vocalists, and depicting a gothic, danse-macabre kind of scene.
'Black September' brings out a feeling of threat and black magic; fast, a little shimmery and full of showmanship. The verses are distinctly menacing, but briefly becomes darkly playful on the very catchy chorus. It leads straight on to...
'Phantom Pain', the finale of this fantastic album, is a lengthy, mournful, bitter, spirited number and has all it should: catchy lyrics, powerful emotions, full use of backing vocals, sufficiently black-magicky lyrics like 'May this selfish deed wake up the dead' and variation in everything (key, volume, mood, instrumentals), with a smattering of witchy cackling and film noire soundtrack at the end. The song and album are finished up with a cheeky, haunting whisper of 'Shh! Bye bye, lullaby!'