Thursday, June 09, 2011
Album Review: Simon Curtis - R∆ (4/5)
It's no secret that when it comes down to American pop music, the genre is often spearheaded by its female frontrunners (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Britney etc). Sure, Justin Beiber is a huge star and Jason DeRulo and Jesse McCartney have nabbed a couple hits in their time in the limelight--but neither represent pop in the same vein as the aforementioned women do. Beiber and DeRulo's catchy pop ditty's pale in comparison to the likes of those women and they're certainly no Justin Timberlake. So, it's nothing short of refreshing when a lad comes along and does it for real--delivering a thrilling pop album that could challenge any recent release from any of the women of pop.
American pop singer Simon Curtis' sophomore album R∆, diminishes any archetypal guitar melodies, stale girl-infatuated lyrics and powers full throttle into riveting electro-pop--excellently demonstrated on opening track "Laser Guns Up" which lays down a beefy wall of chugging electronic undertones, gritty bass lines and robotic vocal effects--comparable to what producers often do to Britney Spears' vocals. Next up is "Don't Dance" which is similar, but a little darker and louder on the electro-front, pondering with warbling electro-effects, skittering synths and skewing vocal morphing, which is quite entertaining.
Lead single "Superhero" is a little more conventional, conveying its uplifting tone through its driving bass lines, glazing synth effects that gradually build up to its thundering chorus. Those bass lines become a lot more heavier and rigid on the quite tame "Pit of Vipers," flaunting layers of electronic pulsing over quite an inexorable analogous of heavy beats and sharp piano chords but still channeling a tuneful, almost mocking playschool melody.
Crashing beats, synths and harrowing electronic soundscapes convey the anger that reaps through the boisterous "D.T.M." as Curtis repeats the lyric "you're dead to me," the same aphotic aura sueges into stuttering synth-charged "Chip In Your Head" which is a little unorthodox and bring back the robotic vocal effects on the rapped verses, which also includes the albums most creative lyric: "If you're dying I'll be the chemo to your cancer." Anger is a little bit of an excessive theme on here--"I Hate U" is another that conveys the theme well.
"How to Start a War" reigns in the electronic theatrics for a more tame aura and ricocheting dance beats and churning futuristic soundscapes. Curtis falsetto on "Joshua" sounds awesome against the abrasive layers of churning electronic synths and pounding beats.
R∆ is a fantastic pop album. It's an epic, cohesive, solid set that delivers on both thrilling electro-pop and intensity. However, if I had any gripe with the album it would be at 14 tracks, it's a little lengthy and while the majority is great--not everything sticks and there is some filler--mostly similar songs that trail the same chugging electronic sound ("Get In Line" and "Soul 4 Sale").
Best: Superhero, Don't Dance, Laser Guns Up, D.T.M, Pit of Vipers, I Hate U, Chip In Your Head