Blue October - Approaching Normal
Big hype artists don't invade my radar often. With Blue October, I am in a precarious position. Having spun three major radio singles on their last release, Foiled, the hype on this release is un-believeable. Most of all, I've got to be honest, prior to their Foiled's successes, the only experience I can speak of is having seen them playing what was basically background music at dive bars in San Marcos, TX some ten years ago. Without further handicap, let's have a fresh look at one of 2009's most anticipated albums, Blue October's sixth studio release, Approaching Normal.
Dark and deep throughout the disc, most moods are solemn and very M.O. for Blue October. For those that prefer the more upbeat melodies, look to "Say It", or even the very creative and simplistic "Jump Rope". Look for the best of bi-polar Blue October in "Blue Skies" and "Blue Does". "Blue Skies" starts soft, and quickly gives way to an aggressive sound, something that these boys pull off nicely. Later on a breakdown of Aggro Keyboardist flailing is further evidence these guys record what they feel, not what sells. The very next track, "Blue Does", though not my favorite track certainly compliments the pace of its proceeding counterpart. Most notably Justin Furstenfeld (lead vocals) purges the somber song's journey, pushing the vocal range and limits. Another harder edge track is "The End", very much a disciple of what Blue October has visited on past LP's. A constant banding of lyricism and instrumentation sets the mood for a very applicable closing track that meets somewhere between jaded words, and a intuitive violinist addition.
With the first single "Dirt Room" just about as played into the ground as can get, let's move to the next best adaptive track for those who have only experienced a liking to the radio singles. Furstenfeld's meshes his talent for range and spoken word on "Been Down" and enables you to immediately draw a familiarity to this song from listen one. Discount some choruses that are repetitive ("Say It"), and the aforementioned hype, and this record will be enjoyed for some time to come. No, I don't believe this album will be as commercially accepted as their last release. But what impresses me most, is this album comes through the speakers as if they had no intentions of meeting that pressure or hype. By that standard, hype achieved.
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on 2009-05-14 SolitaryMan Said:
I used to think fondly of Blue October, but related them to someone who happened to introduce me to the band. Now, I'd rather forget that person, so it sorta prevents me (as an emotional creature) from even wanting to check this out. I didn't think too much of "Foiled", anyhow. Good review though, Brian. Good to know not every band takes the bait of commercial success in favor of doing what they want to do musically.
on 2009-05-13 X_NaStY Said:
"The End" is such an emotional track, I love it. You can just feel the anger that he feels as he speaks. I love how it builds up to a breaking point right at the end and that kind of echos how the guy in the song is supposed to be feeling. Overall, I'm not super impressed with this disc though. There are a couple songs that I like a lot, but most are forgettable.