Faith No More has long been my all-time favorite band. KFADFFAL introduced me, then I picked up Angel Dust, subsequently The Real Thing and finally (after deciding Introduce Yourself was not really worth my money) this one, a couple of months before they actually broke up.
I consider it a good album, yet the worst of the Patton-era.
My main problem with this album is that the new guitarist, Jon Hudson, is not nearly as inventive as Jim Martin or Trey Spruance. The latter two were completely different in style, but since Faith No More has always been about weird style-fusions, they contributed a lot to the variety of the material.
Also, the band sounds as if they're very tired. At several points, it appears they really had to generate the energy that seemed to just flow spontaneously on the previous albums. This, combined with the fact that Hudson doesn't seem to really exceed the level of playing that Kurt Cobain used to display, makes the music sound forced and generic at some points. And it's only 12 songs long!
The mixing is also weird. On lots of tracks, the guitars are loud, while the keyboards and bass seem to have been recorded in a cave. Having pointed out that I consider the guitars the weakest point of the album, you can guess how this makes me feel. Yes. Disappointed.
Now for a song-by-song review, to highlight the positive points of AOTY.
1) Collision - 4/5
A good, solid opener, classic FNM. Keyboard decorates the verses with some beautiful chords, supported by a driving rhythm section. Patton in good shape, introducing the flexibility of his voice to those who have never heard him sing before.
2) Stripsearch - 5/5
Beautiful, beautiful song, built on a solid breakbeat. It features a great melody, and Patton backs himself up with his invaluable falsetto.
Also the song where Jon Hudson shines: from the eerie guitar solo to the perfectly simplistic and dark metal ending. Classic.
3) Last cup of sorrow - 3.5/5
A bit reminiscient of Midlife Crisis off Angel Dust (also #3...). It's a nice song, but it's too long for its concept. It lacks detail, so it has peaked long before the whole "you might surprise yourself"-ending. Could have been better.
4) Naked in front of the computer - 4/5
A bit reminiscient of Get Out off KFADFFAL. Decent guitar riffs, funny lyrics, excellent vocals. Barely 2 minutes long. Good song with a powerful coda.
5) Helpless - 2.5/5
This song sounds rushed. The lyrics seem to have been written by a 16-year old. The verse is plain boring, but the chorus ("Don't want your help, don't need your help, helpless... you found a way to make me say Help me please someone") is very nice. A corny keyboard accompanies the 3rd verse, and then Patton whistles a solo. Probably intended to cover up the mediocre composition, but not good enough for me.
6) Mouth to mouth - 4.5/5
A bit reminiscient of Cuckoo For Caca off KFADFFAL (also #6...) and therefore, awesome. Very dynamic, rhythmic, brilliant keyboard work, frantic vocals. Could have used some detail in the ending, but otherwise superb.
7) Ashes to ashes - 1.5/5
I am sorry, but to me this is nothing but an attempt at scoring another hitsingle. The lyrics make no sense whatsoever and the generic "quiet verse, loud chorus" formula is just disappointing.
8) She loves me not - 5/5
Yay! Musicians at work! This song is genius, courtesy of Roddy Bottum no doubt. Hints of motown, soul and gospel, great lyrics, wonderful musical performances. Another classic.
9) Got that feeling - 2/5
Ugly song. Yuck. This is the best example what I was talking about when I said that some songs sound forced. What saves it from being a complete disaster are the two shameless screeches Patton keeps up for several seconds. The guitar sounds horrible.
10) Paths of glory - 3.5/5
I didn't like this at first, but it grew on me. It's actually a well-constructed slow and dark rock song with some neat guitar work as well. It will never be a favorite but it at least keeps me interested.
11) Home sick home - 2/5
This should have been a B-side. It consists of two guitar riffs and a lame vocal melody, and a half-way decent interlude. The basslines are cool though, and I kind of like the atmosphere.
12) Pristina - 4.5/5
Another reviewer described this as an epic, and I can only agree. It's a hypnotizingly beautiful, simple, slow but dynamic song. Really a band effort, every member gets to shine once more before the album is done.
So that's it. 12 songs in total, 4 bad, 4 excellent, 4 okay. Makes for a good album, but FNM should make wonderful albums. They never will again. I will now proceed to crying myself to sleep. Thank you for reading this.