Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Heavy – The House That Dirt Built

I found out about this band (even though it is fairly popular, and some of their songs are quite prominent and have been featured in many movies and television shows) just about a few years ago when one of their songs from this album, namely Short Change Hero was used as a soundtrack for a video game Borderlands 2. I listened to the song for a few times, but then forgot about the band completely, but just thought of it when I was about to select a band to review for this class. I listened through the whole album and was genuinely surprised. The album goes through many different styles of music, from pure indie rock to even soul, which you (I guess) wouldn’t expect from a rock band. Don’t get me wrong, when I first heard the soul elements, it was a great surprise, because it mixes in with the vocals well and creates a kind of 1960s feel when funk and soul were just starting to get popular. The album starts with an intro which can be heard (actually, the whole album can) HERE – what at first when listening to the album gives the listener a scary vibe and introduces you to the tone of the album, which is presumably horrific. The album is rock, obviously, but as I mentioned before, it does incorporate some other elements effortlessly and it doesn’t feel forced. The album starts with the track Oh! Not You Again!! Which is very similar to a typical garage band’s style, but in the middle you start to hear hints of blues elements in the background, and yet you’re not turned off or put off – you enjoy it. The next track in the line-up is the band’s infamous song How You Like Me Now – the song that seems to be outplayed in almost every Hollywood blockbuster action movie and TV show, but still it seems that people will not get tired of it. It might be because of the combination of soul and funk which is uncommon to work with a rock element so well together. The drums get your feet moving, the guitar makes you want to sing along and the horns just add the little touch that make the track a whole.  The deep slightly smokey voice you hear throughout the track makes you think of James Brown but only in a good way. Compare the track to Brown’s I Feel Good and I think you will see what I mean. The beginning of Sixteen however takes you to a circus stage where you will picture a gentleman with a backing of a female choir telling you a story of a girl seduced by the devil. The carnival theme in the background blends with the lyrics and does make you feel like you are at the carnival yourself, being seduced by the Devil. Short Change Hero – now, my personal favourite of the album, channels some Western influences, with the beginning of the song taking you back to a Clint Eastwood movie, hearing the church bell chime in the distance and readying your revolver for a duel. The western-themed guitar in the background is probably when caught my ear the best, with the groove in the chorus only sweetening the pot and blending into a modern-day soundtrack for a wild wild west movie. The track No Time, which also acts as a mid-hump for the album, takes its roots back to classic rock with a very recognizable 70s vibe to it, and is a great refresher for the ear to continue on to the next track, Long Way From Home, which once again takes up the blues element for the song, yet in a more hypnotizing way than before. The track acts as sort of a calming element after the rough No Time. However much it does try to stray away from the rougher rock element, it does always stay in the background as a constant reminder that they are and indie rock/pop/soul/blues/whatever band that tried to put together an album of seemingly every genre they could think of. As much as I like the album and the effort they put into it, the track Cause For Alarm is the only thing off-putting about it. They seemingly tried to experiment with incorporating reggae elements into the album that is mostly punk-rock-soul, but it just doesn’t seem to fit the picture. The guitar solo in the background is pretty much the only thing that is good about the song, but the constant whining tune that turns up in the chorus and the sudden chane to an Indian accent by lead Kelvin Swasby is just plain annoying and enough to skip to the next track. Love Like That again takes you back to the sixties, and I could vividly picture a random dance-off in a retro diner, which is, to me, a good thing, because I really do like the retro qualities. It gets your feet moving, but it’s not the most special song on the album. The next to last song of the album, What You Want Me To Do, challanges punk yet again, and all would be fine and dandy but since No Time already did that at the beginning of the album, doesn’t it start to feel redundant? Maybe it’s just me – I mean, I have no quarrels with the repeated soul elements of the songs, maybe I’m just not a fan of listening to more than one punk-rock infusion on an album that is supposed to be mixing more styles together. It’s not a bad song by any means, I just feel they could’ve started to introduce the end of the album with a bigger bang. The album finishes off with Stuck – a ballad! The transition from What You Want Me To Do to Stuck sure is drastic, but it is also gives the effect of everything crashing into its place in the end. The ballad itself is beautiful, and gives Kelvin a chance to show us that his vocals can be softer as well, and gives the whole album even more diversity. The guitar is soft and melodic and is a good way to end the album – a whole 180 from the intro of the album which warned not to enter if you value your sanity. This is good for it! Calming, after a 35 minute journey. The whole album when finished gives you a sense of going through a musical journey. You’ve heard soul, blues, punk and even reggae, but it still manages to create a whole. Except for Cause For Alarm, which is still too out of place, even for an album that is all over the place itself, you will be satisfied after giving it a listen. I don’t think you have to do it in a particular order to get the full effect, but it sure helps, especially if Stuck remains the last element of the album. Music is, of course, subjective, but in my opinion it was a good infusion of styles. Hear and decide for yourself.

No comments: