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Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Top 31 of 2007 - #23

Cale's Pick Stars: In Our Bedroom After the War
Released: September 25, 2007

In Our Bedroom After the War is a disappointment, but not an unexpected one. Stars' first album was mediocre, their second amazing, and their third was brilliance in music form! They had nowhere to go but down. That being said, In Our Bedroom After the War lies somewhere in between Nightsongs and Heart on my scale, which pairs it with the not-so-terrible adjective, "good." It is a good album. Like any good album, it has it's songs that really hit home with you ("Take Me to the Riot," "Midnight Coward," or the title track), and others that get skipped over so many times that you forget what they even sound like ("Window Bird" and "Bitches in Tokyo"). Perhaps the single most disappointing thing, however, is the fact that Stars doesn't seem like they're trying too hard this time out. They are a great pop act for their ability to make their songs seem so effortless (when in reality, writing a good pop song is difficult), but on In Our Bedroom..., a lot of the songs seem forced. "Barricade" is absolutely absurd in it's "I swear I'm going to make you cry by listening to this song" approach, and it succeeds, but they're tears of laughter. And "In Our Bedroom After the War" is a beautiful song, and one of my favorites of 2007, but any Stars fan can point out that it follows the exact same formula as "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" right up to the goosebump-inducing string instrumentation in the coda. Yeah, it's a good album alright, but next time around I'd like to see some innovation. Surprise me Stars! Because as much as I love your music, everyone knows that pop acts won't be around for long if they don't evolve. And I want you to stick around...

For giving it one last ditch effort and still not disappointing entirely, Stars shoots to #23.

The Top 31 Songs of 2007 - #23
"D.A.N.C.E." by Justice, from the album, †


Jill's Pick

Common: Finding Forever
Released: July 31, 2007

I was hoping that this would be as good, if not better, than "Be" but it's not. It's close enough, though. It's mellow, it's a nice testament to the skills (skillz?) I think Common has: he can put his poetry to music in lovely ways and can tell a hell of a story. I like Common because he's one of those smart lyricists. Not clever, intelligent.

He's also a really snappy dresser, which helps.

Here's the portion of my review that I can't exactly flesh-out, but want to share: (and I say it with this note: I have been trying for two hours to figure out how to put this tactfully and not open a can of worms. If you would like to discuss this with me, please do drop me a line. It's a conversation I'd like to have with someone.)

I have a good word for Common: contradictory. For as much as I appreciate that he raps about his experiences, I respect the fact he brings up topics he finds worthwhile: teen pregnancy, gang violence, racism. I have to question Common while I listen to him, though, because when he preaches about the ill effects racism on his community, I wonder if he realizes he sounds like those he claims to oppress them.

Really, that's the only thing bad you'll ever find me saying about Common.

Oh. Bonus points for using Lily Allen for the hook on "Drivin' Me Wild"!

My favorite: “So Far To Go”

Songs to give a listen to:
--"Drivin' Me Wild"
--"So Far To Go"
--"U, Black Maybe"

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