Madina Lake
Attics To Eden


2.5
average

Review

by Caleb McAlpine USER (108 Reviews)
May 15th, 2009 | 34 replies | 10,316 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ...or how a good three-minute song was made into a disappointing forty-minute album.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

It's obvious that Madina Lake aren't aiming to innovate. Sure, they've got a lofty concept on all their albums that involves a famous socialite disappearing from a 1950s fictional town, but Madina Lake are, at best, a pop-punk band. They make succinct catchy songs with hooks bursting out of every melody, not meticulously technical musical opuses. Considering that many bands of their genre (Anberlin, The Classic Crime) have constructed brilliant albums without ever stepping out of their pop-punk box too far, this is not a negative thing at all -- a good pop-punk record is a good pop-punk record. Unfortunately, this is not what Madina Lake created. The tried-and-true formula that Madina Lake explores on their sophomore release 'Attics to Eden' is irritatingly dull and uninspired; a widely disappointing release, given their potential.

However, before unleashing a firestorm of mediocrity, 'Attics to Eden' starts out relatively promisingly with a quartet of toe-tapping, ear-tickling dance-rock tracks. From the ominous electronic introduction of the anthemic opener, 'Never Take Us Alive', to the key-changing sing-a-long dynamics that dominate the radio-ready track 'Criminals,' Madina Lake work themselves into a catchy niche from the get-go. 'Let's Get Outta Here' and 'Legends' both exhibit bombastic dance-rock choruses, with the latter easily being the strongest track on the record, complete with spiraling synths and a hook guaranteed to habituate in your head for days. At this point, the record has almost taken a convincing stance in making you believe that you're in for a treat. Don't be fooled.

Immediately after 'Criminals,' Madina Lake switches gears and experiments with atrociously insincere balladry -- 'Through the Pain' is nothing more than a laughable power-ballad, instead of the tear-jerking pinnacle of emotional rock that Madina Lake crafted it to be. It turns out, this is indicative of the entire record; the album fails to meet the standard that the band seemed to be confidently aiming for. 'Never Walk Alone' and 'Not For This World' walk the blurry lines between pop-rock anthems and half-hearted filler tune, while cockily swaggering through beat-based verses and cliched lyrics ("I'm not for this world, this world is for you"). The onslaught of mundane songs that embody everything past the first third of the album drags itself into a forgettable sludge of rehashed melodies and structures. It's not necessarily that these songs are bad songs, it's just that the formula they abide to has already been exercised to the point of annoyance -- you can clearly have too much of a good thing.

Adversely, Madina Lake aren't much better musicians than they are songwriters. As a band, each instrument clicks and feeds off each other nicely, but the performances are so unremarkable that it barely even matters. Occasionally, guitarist Mateo Camargo will provide an almost-memorable riff (see 'Statistic'), but overall, the lasting power of his compositions are far from indelible. Nathan Leone has a capable enough voice, but the in-studio doctoring that was so obviously implemented is endlessly irking because it hampers what could've been an engaging vocal performance (complete with arrogant lyrics). Perhaps the most engaging sections of the forty minutes of 'Attics to Eden' are the littered electronic interludes and digital backdrops, which are rather enticing -- of course, that fact only goes to further showcase the lack of cohesive musicianship.

Putting all of these things into perspective, 'Attics to Eden' is ultimately plagued by uncreative repetition and an ultimate lack of substance. While each song provides a catchy hook-laden structure on it's own, Madina Lake seemed to have lost the concept of an album -- 'Attics to Eden' plays more like a collection of singles rather than a complete 'concept' album (honestly, you wouldn't even notice the "concept" if I hadn't even mentioned it). The overproduced dance-rock act has been done to death on this record, and while it may translate into a fun live show, the recorded evidence of Madina Lake just isn't convincing.



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user ratings (84)
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2.7
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
Waior
May 15th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I'd stick around for opinions and criticism, but I'm in a suddenly terrible headspace and would just come off as pissy and annoying.

See you tomorrow morning, Sputnik.

Essence
May 15th 2009



3577 Comments


you wrote this tired and it shows

Waior
May 15th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Damn it.

YouAreMySilence
May 15th 2009



3727 Comments


I don't care what people say, I don't think you're one of the worst reviewers on the site.

Waior
May 15th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Ha. I'm going to rewrite the first paragraph, but probably not tonight. That would be a bad idea.



YouAreMySilence
May 15th 2009



3727 Comments


Don't. Instead do a review for an album that anyone acually cares about.
i.e The Great Lake Swimmer's new album. Check it.

Waior
May 15th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

But why would I leave a crappy opening paragraph on one of my reviews, even if the band sucks? Bad karma, I tell you.

And surely.

YouAreMySilence
May 15th 2009



3727 Comments


Because it's not that bad, don't listen to Jacktiger7x, I hear he tortures kittens.
Karma is a lie that makes nice kids feel better about themselves.

Waior
May 15th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, but there's nothing wrong with improving. He tortures kittens and corrects my grammar; the latter is something I appreciate a slight bit more. If I write a bad review, I'd rather have somebody tell me so and point out where I can improve on, that way my next one will, with luck, be better. Process of improvement.



YouAreMySilence
May 15th 2009



3727 Comments


Improvements overrated, but do what you wish.

Waior
May 15th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Sucking is overrated.

YouAreMySilence
May 15th 2009



3727 Comments


Toosha.

Waior
May 15th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Pretty much.

If anybody else notices grammatical errors, faux-pretentiousness and/or a lack/overdose of something, just drop a comment here and I'll 'shop it up come sunrise.



ninjuice
May 15th 2009



6759 Comments


I didn't notice anything wrong with this. It would be nice to be a bit longer ("you're not a staff writer, jeez") but you seemed to sum up the album fine.

Digging: Robin Skouteris - The King of ArtPOP

Douglas
May 15th 2009



9057 Comments


Mathematically, two negatives make a positive


Only in additive thinking!

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
May 15th 2009



7021 Comments


I thought their debut was great but this sucks.
Review isn't bad.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Douglas
May 15th 2009



9057 Comments


squishy is an interesting choice of word.

Fugue
May 15th 2009



7352 Comments


Good review, loved the intro. I thought that their first album sucked so I'm not going anywhere near this one.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 15th 2009



10194 Comments


Haha I genuinely don't understand the intro, algebra exams wtf? Haha.

Review was good though, I genuinely like this album, although it's probably only a 3.2 or 3.3.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not bad Caleb. Well done on taking up my suggestion. However, I truly hope that you had heard the album before I suggested it to you. I would hate to think you have reviewed this only a matter of 3-4 hours after hearing it 2 or 3 times.

I can see what you were trying to get at with the introduction & I liked the way you tied it up at the end, but as others have said, it came out a little convoluted in the 1st paragraph.

As for Madina Lake, I had mixed feelings about their debut LP. I even had mixed feelings when seeing them live in February. I think it all comes down to what you stated in the summary; They have the potential to perform a great song or 3 and that's about it. And it doesn't surprise me at all that they botch a ballad here.



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