I was disappointed with The Airborne Toxic Event’s second album, but more because of the sound quality, which I felt masked some great songs. For their third studio album, Such Hot Blood, I’m even more disappointed…they pretty much fixed all of the sound problems, but this time they forgot to write good songs.
I’m just not crazy about this direction of theirs. They’ve clearly decided to go all arena, a sound that is not all that different from their excellent debut, nor a sound I’m opposed to, but I think if you’re going to do something like this you have to be like Muse or something and not take yourself so seriously. But here we end up with a band trapped by their own efforts to be too huge, too big, all the while mired down in their own trappings of gaspy vocals, boldly pained lyrics, and pulling out their tired dramatic flourishes all too often. It’s like if U2 didn’t have the great music backing them up.
I’ve got three songs full-hearted, but that’s me being generous and inconsistent. It’s mostly to call out the three songs I can get into the most when I’m in the right mood. “What’s In A Name?” is probably the best. It’s fast, which is nice.
Most of the songs are too long, too pumped up on steroids when there’s no real song underneath justifying that kind of bombast. On the prior album they decided that they really liked to have violinist Anna Bulbrook sing along with Mikel Jollett to make, say, the slowed-down bridge more dramatic. That ends up being a well they go to all too often on this disc, rendering a sometimes powerful effect bloated and meaningless. And the guitar, I can just see the guitarist strumming his low-slung guitar, finishing with a dramatically upheld pick hand while an off-camera fan blows his hair back…that ridiculous video for “Numb” from All At Once continues to haunt me.
The energy, passion, and hooks of their first album are gone. The band is reaching for a sound that their songs don’t support. It’s sad to hear, but worse than that it’s just kind of boring.
- The Secret – arena. Do I hate this or is it just meh? Or could it be both? Or neither? No, it’s definitely at least a meh thing. Fuck it, I hate it. Now it’s the day after and I realize I do like the verses. Or at least the first minute of the song. Hmm. I still dislike that chorus, but I may move this up to open.
- Timeless – arena.
- What’s In A Name? –
- The Storm –
- Safe – Don’t like how the violin and piano start off so cliched. Deadly combo of bad and boring.
- Bride & Groom – Okay that Anna effect works well here as it follows the line “took your clothes off and danced around my room”
- True Love – I like the verses, I may push this up to open. But god I hate the chorus. Screw it, it’s broken.
- This Is London –
- The Fifth Day – The epic. Takes FOREVER to get going. It’s like one long build that doesn’t really ever deliver, though there are some cool parts. You guys forgot to write a song for your intro.
- Elizabeth – This is terrible. Musically and lyrically. Get over yourself.