Review Summary: It's a good thing he kinda knows what he's doing.
Unless you live in the UK or avidly follow pop music, odds are you would’ve discovered Dan Black while playing the recent sports game FIFA ’11. There, you would have been introduced to his song Wonder
, a touching and quiet pop track that somehow manages to grab a listener’s attention with hooky phrases like “MTV with our brains off”
. Delve deeper into the song, and it becomes a story about a love he seemed to lose touch with over time. All of a sudden you find yourself on the Internet researching the source of that wondrous melody and you come across an up-and-coming British singer who is a lot more outspoken and cockier than you expected. You see someone who enjoys wearing face paint while performing and someone who literally blows up balloon animals while he’s being interviewed. Yes...like a child with A.D.D.
Dan Black described the title of his album ((UN))
in a few words: “Un-rock, un-hip hop, un-everything”. When you hear an artist, especially a pop artist, spewing off self-indulgence like this, you expect a hit single that walks the talk. Luckily, Symphonies
steps up to the challenge. It is as grandiose as Drake’s song Over
back in 2010 when he was boasting how hot his new album would be. Symphonies
introduces the album with an angelic choir that flows into a dreamy song about how much more he wants in life. He chants “Gimme, gimme symphonies, give me more than the life I see”
over a string section and the song basically ensures his entry into mainstream success.
The thing is, Dan Black cannot possibly live up to what he said, even if Symphonies
is as astounding as it is. In it, he admittedly recycled the drum beat from Rihanna’s old hit Umbrella
. The song was also barred from being released earlier due to the fact that he had basically used the same lyrics from a Notorious B.I.G. song Hypnotize
and ran into copyright issues. He clearly isn’t as ((UN))
ique as he thought he was. The rest of the album is a mix of beat-heavy and melodic pop music that experiments different sounds with his voice but isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. Yours
are similar sounding songs with similar tempos and choruses.
Yet, Dan Black still manages to impress despite all this. It all relies on the man himself and his voice. It’s nothing extraordinary, but he is very skilful at adjusting his voice to suit different moods in his songs. He can hit some damn high notes for a male, examples being U + Me =
and Life Slash Dreams
. His voice carries well and his rhythm is stellar on Cocoon
. He even proves how into his music he is with the energetic Pump My Pumps
where his voice fluctuates in a groovy way that would make Michael Jackson smile.
He isn’t as cocky as most think he is either, or at least that’s not what he tries to be in his songs. Much of his album discusses not being happy with who he is now and wanting more out of life. He informs us that “life is life, dreams are dreams, and I’m floating somewhere in between”
and that “I want that hot breath of life in me”
. He loves the attention, but he also insists on portraying the image of someone who is distant and yearning. It reminds me of Kanye West a little.
is a very catchy album that is easy to listen to all the way through. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but Dan Black is an interesting character with a personality that is a mix of Kanye West and Lady GaGa. He is nowhere near his comparables in stature and popularity, but it doesn’t appear that Dan Black cares; he’s just trying to get the most out of life while he’s still young and ambitious.
Life Slash Dreams