The Carpenters
Carpenters


3.0
good

Review

by The Katz brothers USER (183 Reviews)
January 23rd, 2007 | 17 replies | 4,404 views


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 1971 album gives brother/sister duo a big hit, but falls short as far as diversity goes. Memorable single, Rainy Days and Mondays brings it all together.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Monday, January 2007. School just got out, I’m walking down the hallway, backpack full of homework, eager to be spread across the couch and never completed, jacket buttoned unevenly in obvious preparation for subzero temperatures. In a matter of steps this school day will be just another memory. I reach deep into my pocket, fingers folding around my precious iPod. Of course! The last moments of the school day always sound better to a soundtrack! But what to play? Scrolling through artist after artist I realize quickly that the big, glass front doors are quickly approaching. If I want to get some music in, it’s going to have to be now. I click on the next artist I can find.

The Carpenters.

The doors open and I’m hit with a blast of brisk air. Rainy Days and Mondays begins with a soft harmonica melody, one that is so instantly recognizable that it brings forth no less than half a dozen memories as I take my first steps out on to hard concrete. The song’s hook hits like a ton of feathers (or bricks, either way it’s still a ton). Karen Carpenter’s sad, refreshing vocals bring an air of blues to brother Richard’s orchestral (often very Christmassy), somewhat cinematic arrangements. “Rainy days and Mondays always bring me down” she moans in a crystal clear, vintage feminine coo. For an entity so sad Karen’s vocals exude strength in every form. The song goes on without a hitch, the perfect pop tune, and then as Richard’s bombastic string section falls into step with an epic build-up of back-up singers and horns, the perfect vocals of Karen can heard climaxing an epic song before fading away again. By the time I get on the bus I am simply blown away.

The Carpenters are no doubt a 1970’s pop band. Their somewhat trippy and ever soulful tunes paved the way for 1960’s Pyschadelia to molt into 70’s Disco Pop, with two pairs of bell bottoms and a brewing case of anorexia nervosa. The brother-sister duo (Their last name is Carpenter, wouldn’t you know) capitalized on many of the things 70’s pop lacked, and, in an era of flamboyancy and pomp The Carpenters gave Pop the bleeding heart it always wanted. Some of their songs are sad, but many of them also feature the wide-eyed innocence that makes vintage pop so god damn cute. And with the vocals of Karen Carpenter thrown in the mix, it just works.

Unfortunately, the bands hit 1971 album, titled Carpenters, doesn’t boast quite the arsenal of brilliance my description may have led you to believe it did. Carpenters is an album centered around three of the bands biggest hits, Rainy Days and Mondays, For All We Know and Superstar, with a few standout tracks, the borderline Beatles-esque Druscilla Penny (with Richard singing) and Sometimes, cushioned in a bunch of samey pop tunes. It’s all catchy, it’s all cute, but nothing on the album moves quite like Rainy Days, though aforementioned hit single Superstar comes in close. The song takes a much more “Disco” approach, with rumbley bass, an even more soulful style and a chorus that’s sure to have all mothers singing and dancing. The track is still in ballad time, but the dancey, hook filled chorus brings a little bit of happy into what has been a fairly somber record. As an added bonus Sonic Youth cover it for a 1994 cover album.

Richard also has a few chances to shine on the record, the most impressing coming on Druscilla Penny, a track where his normally organic arrangements take a back seat to a psychedelic and hilariously vintage Harpsichord melody. Richard’s vocals are not nearly as sad, nor as good as lil sis’, but his cute lisp and quirky lyrics make for an enjoyable listen. And with this in mind, I think its safe to say that overall, Carpenters is great for pop and nostalgia, but not so much for brilliant songwriting and beautiful melodies. It’s easy to see why this record made it to be such a big hit, but not so much to listen to more than a few times. The Carpenters rule, and they mos def rep CT well (they were born in New Haven ffs), just maybe not so much on this album.

-Joe



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user ratings (12)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2007



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh man The Carpenters kind of rule, but in a mediocre sort of way

if that makes any sense at all

Good review.This Message Edited On 01.23.07

iarescientists
January 23rd 2007



5863 Comments


rep CT

That's wassup.

JumpTheF**kUp
January 23rd 2007



2710 Comments


Their somewhat trippy and ever soulful tunes paved the way for 1960’s Pyschadelia to molt into 70’s Disco Pop, with two pairs of bell bottoms and a brewing case of anorexia nervosa.

That sentence = vote.
Great review.

Eliminator
January 23rd 2007



2067 Comments


the carpenters rule

Zmev
January 25th 2007



983 Comments


hangggginggg arrroouunnnddd

nothin to doo but frownnnn

xxm
May 7th 2013



205 Comments


Great review.But i disagree slightly but still...

Ire
June 1st 2013



41753 Comments


jammin?

xxm
June 8th 2013



205 Comments


@ire Jammin!

zakalwe
February 23rd 2014



7332 Comments


Talkin' to myself and feeling old.

Sometimes I'd like to quit;

Nothing ever seems to fit;

Hangin' around, nothing to do but frown;

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

What I've got they used to call the blues:

Nothin' is really wrong;

Feelin' like I don't belong;

Walkin' around, some kind of lonely clown;

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down



Karen understands.




Digging: J Mascis - Tied to a Star

zakalwe
August 3rd 2014



7332 Comments


Shame hardly anyone else does.

Chrisjon89
August 3rd 2014



3486 Comments


haven't heard this one but We've Only Just Begun and Crescent Noon rule

zakalwe
August 3rd 2014



7332 Comments


When it comes to All American girl,white teeth, sunshine state, wholesome happiness masking the depths of despair, Karen Carpenter is one of the greatest voices of all time. She really is.
Bless her.


Chrisjon89
August 3rd 2014



3486 Comments


yeah her voice is incredible. apparently also an accomplished drummer?

i love that song Sonic Youth wrote about her too

zakalwe
August 3rd 2014



7332 Comments


What ones that dude?
I've got the 'if I were a carpenter' compilation with their version of Superstar on it. Rules. The Grant Lee Buffalo version of We've only Just Begun melts face as well.

Chrisjon89
August 3rd 2014



3486 Comments


never heard that one. Curtis Mayfield did a decent live cut of We've Only Just Begun but nothing compares to the original with Karen's vox and the awesome backing vocals in the chorus.

the Sonic Youth song is Tunic (Song For Karen), off Goo. it's sad, knowing Karen's story.

zakalwe
August 3rd 2014



7332 Comments


Cool!

TWIGtheWONDERKID
August 3rd 2014



722 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Love Sonic Youth's cover of Superstar. They suck all the sunshine and smiles out of it.

Digging: Fennesz - Becs



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