Remy Zero: Villa Elaine

Lots of promise but ends up wallowing in a pool of mediocrity. I can’t help but think it could have been so much better, though. Strong production, with excellent timbres and instrumentation, but cumbersome song structures and painfully slow tempi end up drowning the album in a sea of trying too hard.

“Prophecy” is the obvious stand out track on the album, and even then it’s merely decent when I’m not walking. Love stepping to that backbeat while I’m walking around, though.

The rest of the first half of the album is filled with mediocrity. “Hermes Bird” is harmless but unremarkable (ditto for “Life In Rain”), and it wouldn’t fit anywhere else but the first track. “Hollow” is basically a song right off the back half of Jane’s Addiction’s Ritual De Lo Habitual, right down to the vocal effects. Every time “Problem” starts I think, “How do I have this as broken?” and then it gets to the chorus and I remember, but hell it’s probably worthy of an open heart.

But who do these guys want to be? What’s the game on this album? They’re kind of like a vaudeville imitation act, up there with “Weird Al” Yankovic in their ability to imitate other bands. “Hollow” I mentioned, and then “Goodbye Little World” is one of those stupid Billy Joel-like numbers where the lyrics are talking about a party with Joey and Susie and everybody’s got a problem or story that can be summed up in five words. “Fair” channels the worst of Goo Goo Dolls and Soul Asylum. I also get the rip-off vibe from “Gramarye,” which starts exactly like Low Vs. Diamond’s “Don’t Forget Sister,” but since Villa Elaine preceded that songsit’s just my bad luck, I guess, that I can conjure it when listening to this after the fact.

However, everything gets blown away in the suck department by “Wither Vulcan,” a painfully slow ballad with absolutely nothing interesting taking place over its length.

Harmless but unremarkable sums up a lot of this album. There’s a ton of promise here, as I mentioned, even in the songwriting department. I can listen all the way through and only want to skip a couple of songs, but I am completely unmoved by all but “Prophecy,” and for that one it helps if I’m literally moving in the first place.

– “Prophecy”
– “Hermes Bird,” “Life In Rain,” “Hollow,” “Problem,” “Gramarye,” Yellow Light”
– “Wither Vulcan,” “Fair,” “Goodbye Little World,” “Instrumental 523”
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. Hermes Bird – boring
  2. Prophecy – Picks up the pace here. I like the verses and pre-chorus, but the “feels a little sick to me now” part in the chorus really rubs me the wrong way. I may be able to get over that and push this up to full, though.
  3. Life In Rain – I have this as broken. That might be harsh, but we’ll leave it there for now. Naw, I’ll put it as open. I mean, I can kind of appreciate what they’re going for here, even if it doesn’t move me.
  4. Hollow – The second half of this track could be right off the second half of Ritual de lo Habitual. Oh Jesus the whole damn thing is straight off of that album. I may move this up to full.
  5. Problem – I was trying to figure out how I’d had this as broken and then the chorus came. Oh, I can feel the disgust in my gut…I mean, it literally hurts.
  6. Wither Vulcan – Another that I’ve got as broken. And it does suck.
  7. Gramarye – Maybe the third best song on the album.
  8. Yellow Light – Second best song. might consider moving to full. No, it’s not that good.
  9. Fair – Listed as broken. Straight out of the playbook of some cheese ass 90’s radio alternative band like Goo Goo Dolls. Could have been some of that Goo Goo Dolls shit or Soul Asylum’s worst crap after they got crappy.
  10. Goodbye Little World – This has been done a bunch of times, too. It’s like a talkie story song but the story is just about Jim and Jane and we’re at a party and why does everybody have a first name and a personality that can be summed up in five words.
  11. Instrumental 523 – instrumental, natch. plays like a bonus/hidden track. Unimaginative.

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