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Album Reviews

  • Hmm... I was confused
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Post your album reviews! Any time, any artist, any length or quality of review! I'm running a weekly blog of album reviews for an English class this semester, and I thought they might be worth reading here.



Beat Connection / Product 3
"This is what today's pop music should be like."

Product 3 opens with a blast called Hesitation. A strange blur of genres, this leading track sets the stage for the series of danceable and eclectic hits populating this cheekily consumerist album. As Beat Connection's third major release, and their first on a major label, Product 3 is a much more focused effort than anything the indie dance act has released before, but maintains their wild mix of influences. The leading track  is no exception - it's a strange world/RnB/funk melting pot of groove that jumps out at you as accessible hip hop, but descends into a landscape of ethnic percussion, textured guitars, and abstract lyrics. It bangs. The next song Another Go Round is another inexplicably successful blend of styles, containing liberal amounts of far East instrumentation mixed with island guitar riffs, which combine to hit you over the head with waves of happy nostalgia for memories you've never head. Yeah, those are only the first two singles.

The album proceeds from strength to strength, and finds its most powerful moments not just in the main singles and hits, but in the deep cuts as well. The tracks are surprising weird in their own ways. The Effort is a mellowed out and rainy track that isn't any recognizable genre at first, which at the last second makes a last turn towards dance, reinterpreting the song's established elements into a deep house Dark Train style. This is followed by Ad Space, a jaunty triple-time track that sounds like indie rock meets space age elevator music. The lyrics are nominally happy, but on a deeper level are rather sad, and the song itself has a lovely bittersweet vibe to compliment them. Later on, track Rosaline is a blunt and flamboyantly bizarre "single". I don't even know how to describe it, it's mockingly catchy without any discernible hook, and sounds like an unfinished demo by a 13 year old goofing around with a synthesizer, made professional. I mean this in a good way. Closing track I Hope You Know is an organic take on breakbeats and DnB, with a very healthy amount of jazz vibes thrown in. The mix is surprising organic, and the rapid coda, sung in French (I think?), brings the album to a very satisfying close.

But none of these tracks compare to the mid album selections So Good and Reality TV. Single So Good is a jaunty and shimmering summer anthem packed to the brim with good vibes. There's a wonderful confidence to it, and the chorus is a lovely thing to sing along to, echoing the soul of 70s disco hits and French house over an instrumental you'd either groove out to at a beach side dance party, or play when you're dying to be at one. Reality TV, on the other hand, plays out like a godlike live band cover of Stardust's Music Sounds Better With You. A submarine sonar ping on every second beat kicks the rhythm in an unusual way, and the clever lyrics are similarly delivered in a 70s disco/French house manner that make the track one of the most consciously and directly inspired on the album - but it doesn't feel derivative in the slightest.

That being said, there's some weaknesses. Single Illusion, namely, falls flat. While a good effort at a pop song, the instrumental is entirely too simplistic, the lyrics sound like derivative rip-offs of songs on this very album, and the bridge comes in way too early. It just doesn't stand up to the quality of the other albums. Speaking of derivative lyrics, the lyrics across the album do tend to be a bit generic and simple, as well as unvaried. Many song meanings boil down to "Man, my girl broke up with me. I should give up on her but I don't want to. I'm gonna think hard about it." It's a stark contrast from previous albums where singer Tom Eddy used a more varied and more abstract take to his lyrics. That abstraction was actually more accessible in its own way, since it provided something to dig into, lyrics to take apart, and uniqueness you could connect to. Even if you didn't know quite what the singer was singing about, you knew he was singing about something interesting to him, and it carried across. But on Product 3, the lyrics are so generic you can hardly gleam a single detail about the woman he's still obsessing over, there's little connection. Not that there aren't some exceptions: the brilliant Reality TV is creatively catchy ("I had a woman with visions of / the reality television vision of love... She had an online stream of conscious / A mass text kinda version of justice."), Hesitation paints a postmodernist picture of a nightclub in its verses, and So Good is such pure lovelorn bliss only the most jaded person could fault it for being simple.

If there's one more nitpick I have, it's the lack of transitions - Beat Connection's previous offerings often included short meandering interlude tracks and segues from song to song, furthering the cohesion. Here we have a full break between each song, no filler. It's not a problem by any means, and it might represent what we lost when producer Jordan Koplowitz left the band, or simply what Reed Juenger is bringing to the table as a more "focused effort". So I yearn for a bit more weirdness and understatement. I think I always do though.

All in all? This is a solid record, and I'm surprised it hasn't launched the band to stardom already. At the very least, it’ll be a sleeper hit, and it only promises more from the band in the future. Unique, creative and catchy, this is what today’s pop music should be like.

Elitist Pitchfork Score: 8.1/10
Never for money, always for love.


  • Peter the Bellboy
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Finally got round to listening to this.

It's bloody excellent.

As is The Palace Garden.

Thanks so much for the recommendation!
dancesoitallkeepsspinning


 

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