Break-up albums come thick and fast in the world of rock n� roll. Musicians are sensitive creatures, and break-ups tend to bring out the best (and worst) in them. Heartbreaker
, Sea Change
, Blood On The Tracks
� classics, born from a broken relationship. Can we add the Marvelous 3�s 1999 debut Hey! Album
to the list? Are the Atlanta threesome really as marvelous as they evidently want to be?
began life as a low-budget indie release which, upon huge local success, earned the band a major label deal with Elektra Records. The success of lead single Freak of The Week
prompted the label to request the band re-record the album to, perhaps, its detriment. While the indie release was raw, confrontational, carefree, the commercial release was a slick production, note-perfect, and so shiny you could fix your tie in front of it. Judging by frontman Walker�s subsequent ventures in the business, this was his aim all along, but there are many who find much to grieve in the highly-polished direction taken by the singer/guitarist.
Musically, Hey! Album
is an explosion of pure, glam-meets-power-pop bittersweet energy, but lyrically it�s all bitchy, baby. Opening track You�re So Yesterday
sets the tone typically, with punky-pop guitars and a �do-de-dee-do-do� melody to die for. Cheap Trick have returned! No they haven�t! Lyrically, as the title suggests, it�s a straightforward �fuck
you!� The chorus lyric is the kind we all wish we could write: clever but not too obvious, with enough ill-feeling to fill put the Israelis and Palestinians to shame.
You�re So Yesterday, miles away
Promised myself on New Year�s Day
I�d take a bath today, and wash you away
Saw all your little blonde hairs fall down the drain.
Oh what a joy it is to be in love.
Breakthrough single Freak Of The Week
is, in Walker�s own words, �about coming to terms with selling out.� Allegedly acquiring the verse melody from The Byrds� �So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star� and subsequently �acquired� almost note-for-note by frighteningly ugly popsters Good Charlotte for their hit �Girls & Boys�, the track centres around a truly irresistible chorus which will have even the indiest listener hooked for days. Coupled with references to a shrink who �swears he�s Elvis or something� who �wears the coolest suede shoes when I come in with the blues�, this song makes a very strong case for world domination.
Can you make me a promise
Stop this before we begin
Will you hold on to my head
If I ever lose it again
The sensitive and surprisingly well-written lyrics continue, with heartbroken pop song Until You See
: �I watched you build a castle on a beach one rainy day/I saw it fall apart and roll out with the tide/I think there�s something metaphoric that I�m trying to say�� Write It On Your Hand
resembles the opening track, with a similarly prevalent hook and bitter lyrics to recite at will: �Go and write it on your hand/So you don�t forget/Forget just what you had� Over The Head
exudes a slightly more grown-up confidence, but the lyrics are no less juvenile: �Don�t take this wrong/I hope your arms are long/Cuz you�re gonna need them when I�m going over your head�
Sentimental pop ballad Let Me Go
is somewhat more sympathetic, as the album enters its melancholic phase. Musically, the song is very spacious, clean chords are left to ring as Walker�s vocals take centre stage. And they�re brilliant vocals, the best on the album. The high-pitched chorus conveys copious amounts of (and I hate this musical term) �emotion�. Drummer Slug does what no rock drummer has ever done before and actually works out a beat which actually fits within the confines of the rock ballad. If only for that reason, this is a very special song, and lyrically steps up when required.
Please just let me go
If it�s all over, just tell me so
Please just let me go
And I won�t be your shadow anymore.
This wouldn�t be the last time Butch will betray his stalkerish instincts on record
continues the bittersweet, compassionate mood though it�s considerably quirkier in its delivery. It would seem the song picks up as Walker checks in to a non-descript rental location having seen his relationship deteriorate and �sheds 5 bitter tears into 5 bitter beers� The clever-but-not-really lyrics abound on this one, with the singer proudly announcing �I called up Marie, she�ll have sex for free, but for ten bucks an hour she�ll listen to me talk about rockstars and models on dope and why I can�t cope with this scene.�
Move over Bob Dylan�
Every Monday I get this pain
Every Wednesday it hits my brain
Every Friday I die
Cuz everyday I still want you
is the standard tale of the outsider which Butch is all too fond of writing. Assumedly about his ex, it details the life of the �indie queen�, whose life is oh so hard and it�s oh so hard to fit in. �Well you can fly into London with a coke and a smile, but give it 24 hours and 4000 miles and it�s all just another day away from one less tear to cry.�
Musically the song builds, becoming abruptly heavier before becoming lighter for the chorus, which alone sets it apart from the rest of the album. #27
and Mrs. Jackson
are both passable tracks, sandwiched together towards the album�s conclusion. #27
gets extra props for references to �Blur and The Cure and Oasis� but suffers from a lyrically and musically stale chorus. Mrs. Jackson
is an incomprehensible song about some film star or other, which disappointingly bears no real relation to Outkast or Janet Jackson.
Vampires In Love
is another album highlight which features dumb lyrics which really shouldn�t work, but in the context come across as nothing but charming. Very few lyricists would be brave enough to attempt lines (indeed, lyricists usually embrace other types of lines far more readily) like: �You know that I suck at this, you suck at it too and now we�re nothing more than vampires in love�
Cheesy or witty? Who cares, it works! Musically, the song is the strongest on the album, building with a driving melodic bassline through sparse acoustic guitar and beautiful Sweet Child O� Mine-esque lead guitar on the chorus. Beautiful.
And so we reach the climax of the barely 47-minute album. Lemonade
, which clocks in at an admirable six minutes, is the last track and continues the cheesy but again, sensitive lyrics. It perhaps tells of a certain insecurity that Walker feels the need to dress his emotions up with cheeky imagery, but a lot of the time it simply works. The song itself fades out to a barroom piano ditty recited in the style of the great Victorian poets, which is a suitably grand, and strange
, conclusion to the album.
, despite the sometimes over-polished, clean production, is an emotionally raw record with the power to connect, the power to move and, thankfully, the power to rock one�s socks off. Bravo!
There�s a lot I could say
There�s a lot I could do
If I had it my way, but I don�t and you do
It makes me throw up to say
That I gave a lot, and now I�m shot
Shit like that�s like sour lemonade