Review Summary: Juggling a great deal of individuals and diversity in their debut LP, Listen finds equilibrium.
It has always been a tough task to name an album a classic. What does it have to justify it being
a classic? Does it have a song you love greatly? Certainly! But that alone doesn't make for a classic album. Maybe there's a plethora of songs that you love greatly? Maybe, but a plethora was never enough to warrant a classic. So, if a plethora of songs isn't enough to warrant a classic, then, what is?
is the debut album from the New York City based band Emanuel and the Fear. The band has eleven members, which is quite a feat, as the majority of bands nowadays have around 3-5 members. But, enough about the band. How does the album fair?
The album kicks off with The Introduction
, the track is an instrumental piece that builds into the following track, but, it works so well because it's not just a generic "guitar, bass and drum" instrumental. Not at all, there are a nice collection of orchestral pieces used here that erupt into the playing field after the sound of thunder in the distance and the crackling of light rain touching the ground. As previously stated, it is the kind of track that builds-up the following track, this following track is entitled Guatemala
which has one of the coolest intros I've ever heard for a song in a long time. Throughout the song, there are so many various stand-out moments that it keeps you coming back for more; the flute has the majority of these stand-out moments in the mid-section thanks to some cool Ron Burgundy-esque solos, while the other instruments breeze along underneath.
Various musical genres are experimented in this 19-track CD ranging from Broadway-style musicals, to dance, to short vignettes, to all-out musical mayhem. Balcony
is one of the stand-out tracks on this album. Here, Emanuel Ayva's lead vocals really shine in what feels like a beautifully written Broadway-musical. It is also the longest track on the disc, clocking in at over six minutes, which allows there to be a lot of room for story-telling about a man and a woman falling in love, with the only problem being that the man is pretty oblivious in his actions. Whatever You Do
is the perfect companion-piece to Balcony
as it is somewhat of a continuation of the story being told in the previous track. "Whatever you do, don't ruin everything..."
. It's far lighter and happier than Balcony
in it's instrumentals, but the strong writing is still very present.
Ariel and the River
and is an incredibly catchy track. It's a track that makes you want to get up on your feet and move along with it's snappy beats and slick mix of electronics and synthesizers. This is one of those tracks that could have easily gone wrong as it flows along, but it doesn't - thanks to it's pleasantly-paced over-production. This brings me to Jimme's Song [Full Band Version]
. The song, which is a welcome contrast from the EP version, is now softer and serves as perfect breathing ground from the past-two heavy tracks. On this track, there's a beauty in it's softness. The sweet-echoing whistles over-top the strumming acoustic during the intro ring with life in describing the character of Jimme. The track itself feels special to somebody and is both comedic and tragic in it's portrayal of a man who "don't wanna do nothin' but be in a rock band"
. There are also three other Name Songs
on the album: Simple Eyes
which is alternatively Liz's Song
, The Finale
which is alternatively Dallin's Song
which is alternatively Jason's Song
. This showcases the band as being the "all for one and one for all" type, rather than being "all for themselves". There's a sense that they all helped contribute, to the making of the album, which makes it feel all the more special and this really shows in the diversity at play.
Multiple short vignettes also make appearance on the track-list. Duckies
is most definitely my favorite, as it features young kids laughing at what may be "duckies" inside a classroom. It's my favorite because there's a sense that somebody from the band is there presenting the kids this laugh due to the person's manly-chuckle near the end. It also leads perfectly into Free Life
, where Free Life
works a lot better with Duckies
before it because of it's wonderfully-simple acoustic opening that is repeated all throughout the track. There are also three other short vignette tracks that almost serve as intros to a new act in a stage-play. Look Ma, The Walls Are Moving
is the most recognizable for this as it is absolute instrumental mayhem, while the final track following it, Razzmatazz
, is just all-out musical mayhem. It opens with the same sound of thunder and rain from The Introduction
but then releases with the sound of applause and stops in it's own tracks with a man's calm narration which slowly turns eerie, finally leading to an ending narration that lingers in your mind and leaves you thinking "What the hell was that?" long afterward. It's spellbinding.
is, quite simply, an experience to be had. Never have I been immersed so deeply into an album since Tool's Lateralus
from way back in 2001. There are about four-to-five sets of songs that could have easily made around four-to-five more individual albums for the band, but, instead there was enough collaboration within the group to warrant this much variety on one, single compact disc. Once you listen to this album, it barely lets you go. Only one question remains: "Is it a plane or a star?..."