Reviews for the album Approaching NormalPerformed by Blue October
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F $#@ING AWSOME | Reviewer: "Frankie Figs" | 8/19/09
This album really touches home to me. From the release date to every song's lyrics everything that Im going through I can really relate to it. The order of all the songs in the album really explain the timeline of my situation, (well enough of that crap). Thank you- BLUE OCTOBER for this awsome album you guys really know how to put lyrics together that reach out to somebody that can relate to every single song. Thank you! I listen to the album every single day and it really helps me get through.
New Approach, Same Great Band | Reviewer: keiv | 3/25/09
Approaching Normal. The title of Blue October's new album is both fitting and ironic. Musically it leaves behind the overdubbed vocals, echoes, unnecessary sounds and electronic trickery that drew the ire of some longtime fans after the release of the band's previous album, Foiled. On this effort, the band instead embraces a variety of instruments to produce the necessary sounds that drive their music, and although synthesizers are used on many of the songs, they are employed to complimentary effect. Gone too are the days of Ryan Delahoussaye's violin being the lead instrument, a trend which began with Foiled. Although Delahoussaye is omnipresent on the songs, his strings take on new roles and are used to produce a variety of sounds which provide the supporting textures of the songs. Ryan's mandolin, piano, and voice are also more prominent on this recording. In other respects the music is far from normalized. Blue October is still one of the most eclectic bands producing music today, and the new album is no exception, featuring hard rockers, ballads, pop songs, dance numbers, hip hop, even a lullaby. Lyrically, it can be argued that Justin Furstenfeld's words are the furthest from normal that they have ever been, with two of the songs graphically describing violent fantasies. As Furstenfeld (and thousands of Blue October fans) have discovered, expelling these thoughts from your mind and into creative art, is the best hope for sanity and normalcy.
The album begins with “Weight of the World”, a song which showcases the dichotomies between loud and quiet, harsh and soft, frantic and calm (a persistent theme throughout the record). The verses feature Justin peacefully singing with minimal instrumental accompaniment, whilst the choruses are an onslaught of heavy bass and synthesizer. An epic album opener that builds well.
“Say It” and “Dirt Room” are the most straight forward rock songs on the album. “Say It” has a good rhythm and gets synthy towards the end and has great drumming too (oh the boom!). You can tell how much fun Justin is having singing it, at one point he yells "wooo!" in between verses.
“Dirt Room” features a violin solo reminiscent of Blue October's older material. I'm looking forward to seeing this one live, and I'm also loving the backing vocals (wooo hoooo woooo).
“Been Down” is a mellow song driven by violin, piano, and a smooth bass line. We're treated to bells and drums, and towards the end C.B.'s electric guitar emerges. Justin's voice sounds great, and the lyrics are well-crafted “I meant to sympathize... I meant to be a friend... I know apologies won't erase the end... But I learned that moving on is where I must begin... Cuz when our colors mixed we couldn't fix the way they wouldn't blend.” As a breakup song it makes you think, but is also accessible and catchy, reminding me of Johnny Cash's “Ring of Fire”, and Blue October's own “Two A.M. Loveick”, "Let it Go" and "It's Just Me." The song is an instant classic, I can see it appearing in a relationship movie, just after the part where the boy loses the girl.
Plucked out on acoustic guitar with backing violin, “My Never” is hushed and romantic. Bass and shimmering symbols kick in midway through the first verse, and there are some spacey sounds and mandolin. The vocals are full and strong on the choruses and almost whispered on the verses. The song is quite slow, and as a fan of the rocking songs that opened the album, I'm afraid I'll get bored with “My Never” faster than most other fans.
“Should Be Loved” is my new favorite. Within seconds I'm tapping my feet, and then dancing. This quick-paced retro dance number features heavy use of synthesizers and takes me back to the 80s. You can't help feeling happy and wanting to dance while hearing this song. This is one that will really get the audience moving at the shows.
At this point I'm loving the album. We're only halfway through, and already we've traversed a wide range of emotions – love, regret, depression, hatred, elation.
“Kangaroo Cry” is slow and serious, and breaks new ground for Blue October by becoming political. A poignant song, it captures the emotions of saying goodbye to a loved one who is about to travel to a place where you can't protect them.
“Picking Up Pieces” starts off slow with piano and bass. It's a spoken song that quickly becomes upbeat with marimba and oceanic percussion (much like “Into the Ocean”) and by its midpoint is a dancable tune.
“Jump Rope” embodies how I feel about this album. It's a constant up down up down. This song is happy and hippy hoppy (think Bobby Brown's album “Don't Be Cruel”) with violin and rapped lyrics. It gives advice about life's up and downs, and how you've got to keep your head up, and don't be ashamed to cry.
“Blue Skies” zooms and soars and has a fun instrumental bridge with keyboard and guitar and clapping.
“Blue Does” is a lullaby about how beautiful and amazing Justin's daughter is. You can hear the love and fatherly tenderness in his voice, and midway through the song Ryan joins in on the singing. This song could be confusing to people who don't know Justin has a daughter named Blue. Whilst this song is pretty, again as a fan of the rockers, I must confess I would have preferred to have seen “The Fern” or a heavy version of “It's Just Me” on the album rather than this song.
Violin plucking and building suspense, a sense of urgency and uneasiness – like we're driving into war.
Vocals are whispered and creepy. “How far will I go?” Justin asks, and then reveals with each successive verse. Gunshots ring out, further emphasizing the brutal anguish of “The End.”
Regardless of how you define normal, I doubt Blue October could ever allow themselves to become it, and I doubt their fans would want them to. Blue October thrives on being abnormal and eschewing conventions; this is what makes them unique; this is what makes them a great band. So fear not fans, Blue October may be approaching normal, but they're still far from it.
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