Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Album Review: The Veronicas - Hook Me Up (4.5/5)
I've been very much into the Veronicas second album for a good part of this year--I think I've been listening to the original Australian import since February and have enjoyed it nearly all year long. Twin sisters Jessica and Lisa Origliasso form two halves of successful Australian based duo (or band as they liked to be known) The Veronicas. After dipping their feet in pop waters with their light Hilary Duff-esque pop/rock sounding first album, The Secret Life Of which solidified the twins as hits in their hometown the next step was world domination thus sophomore, Hook Me Up was born.
Despite at times being a bit trite, their dark blend of electronic pop and '80s synth-driven rock, angry lyrics and sexual undertones is more than appealing, supplied by high-profile producers such as John Feldmann who's worked with Hilary Duff, Ashlee Simpson (obvious influences) and rock bands Panic! At the Disco and Good Charlotte and Billy Steinberg who's produced albums for JoJo, Ashley Tisdale and Russian duo t.A.T.u. (possibly the biggest infleunce for the girls) best known for their controversial hit "All the Things She Said."
The album opens with with a trio of dark '80s influenced electro-pop inspired tracks. Firstly, there's the dramatic breakthrough single "Untouched," which is uniquely violin driven, especially at the beginning before the rush of electronic guitars and rapid synths kick in acquiring some mainstream appeal, followed by sexually-amped title track "Hook Me Up" and angry "This is How it Feels" which both pulse with bold synths and electronic guitars. Getting the album off to a great start.
"This Love" was an initial favorite. The mid-paced number thumps with its kinetic glory and lots of '80s-sounding keyboards, prepping the aggressive but tame chorus, another mid-tempo is the albums sexually driven moment, the retro stomper "Take Me On the Floor" has all the synth, keyboards, rhythmic sounds-capes intact however its most notable moment arrive through the lyrics as they briefly elude a sense of bi-sexuality ("I wanna kiss a girl, I wanna a kiss a boy") It didn't strike me as controversial or provocative however it's been noted in almost every review I've read for this album. It's possibly the closest they've verged to t.A.T.U.'s "All the Things She Said."
"I Can't Stay Away" is a fine pop/rock number, however more suited on their first album rather than this one. It's good but not a highlight, same with the feisty and rebellious "Popular" which showcases a more young teen-fronted mask to the girls, but possibly a bit too electronic for my taste. It's one of two tracks not on my iPod.
The albums best track comes in the form of "Revenge is Sweeter (Than You Ever)" which is so good, it even became the title for their tour supporting the album. This has been one of my favorite songs of the year--on a note, I can relate to the lyrics so much through personal endeavours, especially the lyric: "You were right there but it's like you never knew me, do you even know how much it hurts?" On another note, the songs top-notch electro-pop production is flawless. Beginning with subtle strings and guitars slowly working its way to the pulsing synths and orchestration, then to the brilliant chorus, eluding show much passion and angst from the girls vocals.
Following is "All I Have" the second track I don't have on my iPod from the album, It's so drenched in electronic spoils, it's kind of boring. "Someone Wake Me Up" is another knockout, second favorite to "Revenge." I like the progressing guitar chords towards the end of the chorus. "In Another Life" is a lovely piano ballad for the first half before things get a bit more dark electronic-guitar fueled towards the end. A nice contrast.
The UK version comes with four new tracks, which I quite love. First there is handclap-fonted "Goodbye to You," then there's socially viable "Change the World." The current single "4ever" which I ultimately love for the energetic chorus and lastly "Everything I'm Not," which is my least favorite of the bunch. Too Hilary Duff for the girls own good.
Hook Me Up is a brilliant electro-pop album and with the embracing of the rock sound avoid any comparisons to Britney Spears' Blackout, which was what I had thought the album would have sounded like before giving it a fair listen. Even if it didn't produce any substancial sales upon its UK release despite the success of lead single "Untouched," I still believe these girls will have a successful career in the next decade.
Best: Revenge is Sweeter (Than You Ever Were), Someone Wake Me Up, Untouched, In Another Life, Take Me On the Floor, This Love, 4ever