Friday, May 29, 2009

Paper Empire

Okay. So, as y'all know, Better than Ezra's newest album, Paper Empire, came out a few weeks ago, and I didn't get mine right away, because I ordered it from the band. Well, it appeared in my mailbox, waiting for me, when I got back from my little vacation down in H-Town. Yay!

Truth be told, I haven't really heard anything one way or another about this album. Then again, I'm an Ezralite, but not to the extent that I'm a Goober, y'all know? So, it makes a sort of sense that I wouldn't have heard anything so far about it, good or bad.

So, I guess what I'm trying to also say, in a semi-subtle way, is that... Although I'm not a hardcore Ezralite, I'm not really a casual, either.
True, I've never seen them in concert, though that doesn't say I haven't tried to, and I've never met them, and I don't actually have all their albums... I'm missing their Greatest Hits, another album called Closer , and their live work... But, I know their songs beyond "Good", "Desperately Wanting", and "Lifetime", y'all know? I'm somewhere in between a casual and a hardcore is the key summation here.

My favorite song is probably "One More Murder" tied with "Under You", though I also love "Teenager" and "Happy Endings". Overall, my favorite album is probably How Does Your Garden Grow? And, I'm laying all this out in case any other Ezralite stumbles upon this review and wonders what sort of fan wrote it.

So, without further aideu, the newest album from >Ezra, wlecomming their new drummer: Paper Empire.

Song One: Absolutely Still
From what I know, this was chosen as the albums lead-in single, so it makes since that it's the first track. Overall, it's deffinitely keeping the poprock vibe of Before the Robots. In fact, it reminds me, somewhat, of "Lifetime". Griffin's vocals are great and clear... He sounds fantastic, and the lyrics are full of love and longing... Classic >Ezra content. The beat's good, the chorus is powerful enough... and I'm shocked this song hasn't done better as a single... It sounds like it'd be great on the radio.

Song Two: Turn Up the Bright Lights
This one starts out a little more.... Toned down than the first... And, stays that way. It seems to have this lovely undulating quality to it; like waves, not like a rollercoaster. And the lyrics are great: "She moves like music, but in a moment she'll be gone". Pure poetry. If there's anything Griffin does well... He's a great lyricist... Anyway... This song is great. I'm digging it more than AbStill, a lot more. It's a love letter to some lucky woman and some magical locale.

Song Three: Just One Day
Ooohhhh. I'm feeling some... HDYGG? vibes here, especially with the strings... And then Griffin's vocals come in, a little toned down, more like he's coaxing you than singing to you, and oh, it works..... And then the chorus kicks in, which is the right amount of uplifting and powerful. The song's got a classic theme: What would you do if you could change things, if everyone you love came back for one day, if you could just make your life better, etc... And, that's a tired theme, I know, but >Ezra pulls it off perfectly with this song: they leave it open and accessible, just presenting scenarios that are universal enough to illicit a response of self-reflection in their listeners. Good work. This could be a single.

Song Four: The Loveless
Judging by the title, I figured this would be some slow, sad ballad. It's not... It's just as up-beat *sounding* as the rest of the album so far. There's a good tempo, and accompanying strings... And, the lyrics aren't exactly bright and shiny, but... Well, they pull a GGD: it should depress you, but it doesn't! It's a good song. I especially love the music break, and, as always, strings.

Song Five: All In
Ooooh, okay.... Here's the jangly pop.... And crowd-singing! Oh, wow. This one's gonna just be fun... Yeah, this is fun... Almost as fun as, say, 3EB's "Non-Dairy Creamer". That's all I've got to say... Just fun pop rock. The opening verse is exceptionally great. And, this is just catchy as hell... "The bottom of the line is to have a bit of fun." Fuck, I love it. I'd give it a perfect, but the over-done, distorted synth is a little grating.

Song Six: Fit
I'm just curious as to what this is going to sound- Okay, it sounds... Really epic, and slow... Okay, with a title like this, I'd expect it to sound like the last song, but... After the somewhat bombastic intro... In come Griffin's heart-felt vocals, and... OH! It's a love song, about how people fit together... Wow, I'm an idiot. The lyrics are gorgeous, and Griffin totally delivers, as he always does, especially when he pours out his heart, but... The music's... Almost TOO MUCH.

Song Seven: Hell No!
Starting with organs?... Riffy guitars...? WOAH, WHAT IS UP WITH THE VOICE FILTER?! Oh, wow.... Peter Frampton would be proud... This rocks... It's about the apocalypse, and it couldn't be more upbeat. Rock on, >Ezra. This is great... Nice guitar work, especially.

Song Eight: Hey Love
Okay... I think I'm catching a re-occurring trend with this album... Beautiful, wonderful, heartfelt lyrics, delivered by Griffin's absolutely fantastic voice... But it's all *almost* drowned out by the music, especially when the chorus hits. I mena, I know the chorus is usually loud (duh), but... Man... Anyway, the lyrics completely bump this one's score, as does the bridge when you can pretty much JUST HEAR HIM.

Song Nine: Nightclubbing
....Okay. Techno in MY >Ezra?.... All right. Rock on. Okay, just like All In... I can't really say much except that it's awesome; just purely awesome... When >Ezra decides to POP, they pop. Man, this song is great.... His grating voice, out of nowhere, and SAXOPHONE! And, boy, is this album turning bi-polar...

Song Ten: Black Light
Hmmm... Okay, I'm not exactly digging this one... The quick speaking (rather than real singing) is kind of... Not working for me, and the music really isn't working.... Until the chorus kicks in, and that helps a little, but... Yeah, I'm not feeling this one. Even the cool synth noise that's in the background of the chorus isn't coaxing me.

Song Eleven: Wounded
Hey, 3EB has a song called this! Uh, anyway... ooh, I like the haunting-ish way this starts, and... The overall seriousness to it... It sounds almost eerie. Oooh... I really like this. Griffin's asking for answers, answers he'll never get, concerning the state of humanity; pleading for better days...... And, I'm hearing the pain in his vocals, and there's some sweet bass and synthed noises... And... Oh, man. I think I've found a favorite track!
5/5, easily.

Song Twelve: I Just Knew
Aaaand, I almost knew we'd finish with a slow song. I got very slight "Happy Endings" vibes... Guitar and piano... And his wonderful voice. It's a great one to follow "Wounded", lead us out of the trance-like state that one puts us in, and serenade us about the beauty of 'we're-meant-for-each-other' love... Fuck, this is gorgeous and sweet and so genuine. If Griffin's in love, or if he's gotten married, or whatever.... Then, THIS is how it should be done... Not... Not claiming songs are about something, when they're really about love... Not making a WHOLE ALBUM
about love... Just a few love songs, and one truly beautiful one to top it off.

Okay. There you have it. Overall, as I mentioned a little bit earlier... The album seems a wee bit bi-polar, but it's okay, because it's >Ezra. And... If you're not already a fan... This could snag you, unless, of course, you don't dig Griffin's voice. It's very unique, and it's a deal-maker/breaker for attaining fans. So... Check "Absolutely Still" out on y_tube, and if you dig the vocals... That song's a decent representation of the pop rock side of the album, and find "Wounded" and/or "All In" to see representations of the rest.
As usual, it's a good, solid effort. It didn't overthrow HDYGG? as my favorite album, but I definitely prefer it over Before the Robots.
every dream came real