We are big Norma Jean fans, but wrongdoers did us wrong... Sorry, I had to. It is not a horrible cd, but it feels like they are not progressing their music or giving us high quality music. It feels like they have taken a step back and not offering anything of value.
Justin Timberlake the 20/20 Experience
Written Review by J.S. Marler
I am going to make this a relatively short review because I can then stop listening to this album. No, the album is not that bad, but I am not sure how much I will want to listen to it in the future. I will explain.
My Background with Justin Timberlake:
I have mixed emotions when it comes to Justin Timberlake. I was in elementry school when N*Sync had their first concert on the disney channel and I would be lying if I told you I did not like them. In fact, I loved N*Sync at the time and I had no idea what history had in store for boy bands and Justin Timberlake. As the years passed on I found that I really liked some N*sync songs and even a handful of Justin timberlake songs. However, there were many more songs that I cannot stand. I think a lot of people are able to stand listening to these horrible songs because they like listening to music for the sake of just letting music play; I am not one of those people. Timberlake has been part of very good songs and very crappy ones that I wish I had never heard. Let us see what the 20/20 Experience can offer.
I genuinely enjoyed the two singles released for this album before it all songs were released. “Suit and Tie” was a song that had a big listening curve and I now really enjoy it despite hating it at first. The second single “Mirrors” was a song that I instantly liked and made me excited about the rest of the album. All that excited was deflated with the first song and then skipping through every song after. I really hated listening to this album at first. It felt like it was almost actually causing me pain. I honestly do not listen to this style very often and I generally do not like the high pitched falsetto vocals. Initially this album seemed to offer nothing more than the two songs I have heard and enjoyed before the album was released.
After Multiple Listens:
I somehow forced myself to listen to this album over and over. I found that it was much easier to digest if I was doing something mentally intensive at the same time so I was not focused on the music exclusively. This made it much easier to listen to and even enjoyable at times. I will say that it was a much better experience listening to the album cover to cover. It was arranged well and added to the experience having the songs leading in to each other. I could be wrong, but pop albums tend to not benefit from listening to cover to cover like a lot of rock albums do. Pop albums usually have a few good songs that are distinctively better than the rest of the album and do not benefit from other songs. I am glad to say that this album was planned well and is a better experience listening to cover to cover.
I will give the album credit where it is due. It is recorded well as expected and offers some cool things that I did not expect. The style of the singles represent the style of this album in that they are not typical pop songs. They have a different style is every sense. Different instrumentation, different vocals, and an overall different feel. This is no longer a “rock your body” or boyband music experience anymore. It takes chances musically with multiple really long songs on the album that last over seven minutes. This was something I did not expect with a pop album. It really has its own style that is different and was not concerned with fitting into corporate molds; I cannot help but respect that.
I mentioned earlier that the two singles “Suit and Tie” and “Mirrors” are the best songs one the album. It took a listening curve, but the song “Don’t Hold the Wall” was the next best song that I enjoyed because of the rhythmic and different feel it had. The first song on the album “Pusher Love Girl” still drives me crazy and I never want to listen to it again. The only thing worse than the name is the song itself. Actually the song “Strawberry Bubblegum” is worse, but starting the album with “Pusher Love Girl” just set a bad starting point for me. The song still got better with multiple listens, but not enough for me to enjoy it. The rest of the album kind of faded away for me. It has moments that stick out and are catchy in their own respect, but it did not have the traditional pop “hits” I have come to expect. I really do think that this album will be easier to digest and differentiate after a few months if I continue listening to it.
Rating: J.S. Marler 5 J.W. Morse 4.5 Average = 4.75
Best Song: Mirrors
Worst Song; Strawberry Bubblegum
Album Review: Almeria by Lifehouse (2012)
By J. S. Marler, Edited J.W. Morse
-The Band/My History With Lifehouse-
Lifehouse has been around for nearly 13 years and I have been listening to them since their debut album No Name Face in 2000. I am a big fan of Lifehouse and I've learned to play several of their songs on guitar, seen them in concert, and even performed some of their songs. They have had mainstream hits with every cd that they have put out and I was excited to hear Almeria; their 6th album which features the single “Between the Raindrops”. I have pretty high expectations for this band and held them to a high standard for this release.
-Album Artwork and First Impressions -
I have never really been inspired by the album artwork Lifehouse has put out for their previous cds. I honestly have enjoyed the Lifehouse albums that were just a picture of band rather than some random artwork that seems to have no relation to the music. This album has random artwork. It’s an illustration of a four way dual between identical looking cowboys. There is no title track on the cd, so relating the artwork to lyrics would just be me guessing. Either way, the artwork does not do much for me, other than differentiate the look from previous albums. “Almeria” is a city in spain and can be translated to "mirror" or "the watchtower". Either interpretation seems irrelevant to the messages or lyrics in any of the songs.
-Experience and Track Impressions -
-Gotta Be Tonight-
I generally don't like slang or improper grammar in lyrics, but I especially do not like it in titles of songs. The dictionary “Gotta” is actually a contraction of have got to, the dictionary says it is “not acceptable for standard use” whatever that means. The point is it sounds dumb.
Dear Lifehouse: Please rename the song “Gotta Be Tonight”.
This is the first song off the album and is honestly one of the best. It’s not your normal Lifehouse song. It incorporates a catchy beat, lopped Gnarls Barkley type vocals in the background, and a non traditional--at least for Lifehouse--guitar riff. Everything is tied in with a chorus that escalates the song to place that I really enjoyed. This song is a good mix of something old and something new. Fingers crossed this is the start of a trend for this album.
- Between the Raindrops-
Between the Raindrops is the first single off this cd and caught me off guard. I first heard this song on the radio and thought it was a really girly sounding song; it took some time before I realized it was by Lifehouse. Then the second verse came. It features a female vocalist, who later found out is Natasha Beddingfield, and that really threw me off. I can’t put my finger on it, but the instrumentation was significantly different from what I would expect and I can never remember hearing a Lifehouse song feature anyone; especially a female vocalist.
These aspects surprised me enough that I did not like the song at first. However, I kept on listening to it over and over. After a number of listens it grew on me so much that it became my second favorite song off the album.
- Nobody Listen/Move on Day-
In addition to conjunctions and improper grammar; I also sincerely dislike repeated short words or phrases in songs. There are exceptions in some songs with breakdowns, or some rap songs that mesh it into the beat. Unfortunately, Lifehouse does not have break downs, and they do not rap, However, they do have an excruciating amount of repetition in these two songs. Musically I could not enjoy them because of how much the lyrics are repeated. The song Nobody Listen says “nobody listen” 27 times. Yes, twenty- seven times. That really annoyed me. I held to together (barely) to listen to the whole song, hoping the next one would redeem the previous track. Nope. It redeemed nothing. The next song is Move On Day and says “move on” 64 times. Yes, sixty-four times. I never want to hear either of these songs again. Ever. I am deleting them before they drive me to suicide.
- Slow Motion-
This song is really slow and boring. The guitar riff is super repetitive, I can barely stand listening to it.
- Only You’re The One-
This song is sandwiched between crap songs and can be easily missed the first few listens. Luckily I forced myself to listen to album cover to cover over and over so I was able to pick this song from among the ashes. I love the instrumentation and think it is the best recorded song on the album. It also feels like the most personal song on the cd. This is my favorite song on the album and would not be surprised if it becomes the biggest single off the album.
- Where I Come From/Right Back Home/Barricade-
I hate the guitars in all of these songs. Any good vocals of these songs are overshadowed by unenjoyable instrumentation, song structure, and over all crap. Don't waste your time on these songs.
This is the last song off of the non-delux version of the album and somewhat redeems the previous songs that I did not enjoy (though I think I am being generous in saying those songs can have redemption). This is a nice chill song that encompasses hardship and redemption. It is not going to blow you away, but I enjoyed it. This is another song that I missed upon initial listening and was fortunate to filter through the crap.
- Bonus Tracks-
If you spend a few extra dollars on the the delux version you will get three bonus songs. The songs do actually benefit the cd as a whole and are refreshing compared to the rest of the album. However, I cannot say that I would be inclined to listen to these tracks individually
Lifehouse has sold millions of records and has heaps of money to throw at recoding. This album sounds great! And by golly it does. No one expected anything different.
The singer of Lifehouse, Jason Wade, has one of the best voices in the industry. He also can replicate those vocals with live performances, which is very rare; as crazy as that may be. There is a lot to like about his vocals on this cd, but I will say there are points of lower octaves that, while not bad, would have sounded better if sung at higher octaves. Overall the vocals do not diminish songs in and of themselves, and actually help redeem parts of bad songs. I enjoyed the vocals overall, but I cannot say that this cd reflects him growing as a vocalist. With that said, nothing feels forced either.
Historically I have very much enjoyed the lyrics of Lifehouse. Nothing on this cd inspired me as far as lyrics go. The tracks that do stand out are on Only You’re The One where he sings about an unconditional love and always being there for someone. The lyrics in combination with how it is sung makes it the most significant song to me. Aftermath is appropriately titled and focuses on making it through the storm and regrouping. There are other good lines through the cd and I enjoyed the messages throughout but it could have been stronger.
This is Lifehouse's worst overall CD to date. With that said, it has 3-4 songs I really enjoy: Gotta Be Tonight, Between the Raindrops, You're the Only One, and Aftermath. The problem with this CD is that the bad songs are really bad; so bad that I never want to listen to them ever again.
I have listened to every song on every other Lifehouse CD and I can't think of another song that is worse than the bad songs on this CD. I forced myself to listen to every song on this CD around 50 times and the bad songs didn’t get better. I don't mean to come down hard on a band I really love, but I can't recommend buying the whole album. For the beat experience I recommend buying those four songs.
Below is a list of the songs to skip, please for your own good use this list, I can’t stand the thought of someone suffering like I had to.
Recording - 9/10
Vocals - 7/10
Song Structure 6/10
Lyric Content - 6/10
The Experience - 6/10
Total Score: 6.8 (Worth Listening to the good songs)
Best Song: You're the Only One
Worst Song: Move On Day
Songs to skip every single time: Move On Day, Nobody Listen, Slow Motion, Where I Come From, Right Back Home, Barricade
------- Show Notes --------
Lifehouse - http://www.lifehousemusic.com/almeria/
Buy it here
Itunes - http://tinyurl.com/adavsl2
Amazon - http://tinyurl.com/aftslln
Google Play - http://tinyurl.com/a5nebum
Listen to it on
Spotify - http://tinyurl.com/aykqwga
Rdio - http://tinyurl.com/al9c5py
RSS - http://lifeneverlost.libsyn.com/rss