Review Summary: If the world is ending, they're throwing the party. It's not; don't come.
In all seriousness, we as lowly consumers aren’t supposed
to take Cobra Starship seriously (Gabe Saporta even says so!). I mean, a band that got famous for giving the pop culture flop Snakes on a Plane
a modest hit and decided to begrudge the fruitless song by wrapping a whole album around it? A one-trick-pony if a horse wrangler ever saw one. And yet, a little over a year after Cobra Starship (once a one man act consisting of Saporta and expanded into a full-fledged pop rock band) gave us While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets
, they're back with ¡Viva La Cobra!
, a more club-oriented romp through all things guilty and pleasurable about guilty pleasures.
The band knows this; especially ringleader Saporta who, if anything, sounds like he’s having the time of his life. His infectious charm is what drives the 37-minute ¡Viva La Cobra!
to its jittery finale, skipping frantically through radio-ready tracks with rarely a breather. The problem is, that’s not enough to salvage what ends up being a flimsy, cardboard cut out of the vivacious pop album Viva
strives to be. It’s dishearteningly too early when he promises, “I won’t make the same mistakes!” on the distort drenched “One Day, Robots Will Cry,” a sentiment that trails too close to While The City Sleeps…
’s heels and, before long, Viva
To its credit, “The City is at War,” featuring the kind of thumping bass line and clanking electronics that calls for airplay, kicks the album into high gear. “The party never stops; come on, stick around see how it ends,” Saporta begs, jumping full force into his dance floor samba. It’s bubbly cute, a force to be reckoned with; hell, Cobra Starship could be this year’s finest turnabout surprise. Cut from the same fabric, “Guilty Pleasure” wastes no time trailing “The City is at War” (it should be noted that placement is Viva
’s strongest asset), ABBA-on-steroids, full of large hooks and layered vocals. It stands as one of Viva
’s strongest cuts and the first sign of danger. Led in on electronic strings, Saporta signs away his dignity as a member of Cobra Starship with, “And I came here to make you dance tonight. I don’t care about my guilty pleasure for you.”
But the song, and consequently Viva
, is polarized by an ill-fated dip into tedious ballad territory. The segment is short but rings false, breaking up a flow that had no business getting messed with (it gets widened into the most radio accessible song on the album, the placidly paced ballad “The World Has Its Shine (But I Would Drop It On A Dime)”). And from that rocky break, Viva
hits more, from the shoddily executed alternative rock of “One Day, Robots Will Cry” to the Spanish styling of “Smile for the Paparazzi” that is more annoying than authentic. The jazz percussion to “Angie” sits awkwardly under the testy computer drone and Saporta’s nasally whine. The promise shown by the guitar rocking but ungodly named “Prostitution is the World’s Oldest Profession (And I, Dear Madame, Am a Professional)” and its fist-pumping breakdown? Lost to the sickly hip-hop oriented “My Moves Are White (White Hot, That Is)”.
The promise is there, as much as us lowly but opinionated consumers would like to disprove that claim. “Kiss My Sass” creates a fastball of a computerized hook (he is bringing sassy
back. Wouldja look at that?) that is aided by predictably limp verses (livened by Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy). “Damn You Look Good and I’m Drunk (Scandalous)”, an unsubtle nudge-nudge-wink to the sexually charged, letter-happy top 40 hits (hey, Fergie, Saporta is calling you out) is cool for half a listen purely as a novelty (possibly shorter than that– I might or might not have been trying to match Saporta’s spelling of “scandalous”). And ¡Viva La Cobra!
, for all its worth, tries its damned hardest to put the music in your heart, the bounce in your step, and the shake in your hip. And, bless its little soul, that’s all we ask for. Cobra Starship’s biggest detraction is expecting more than that from themselves.