Review Summary: A more mainstream approach isn't always necessarily a good change, but compared to most modern music today, this album is pretty good, if tedious at times.
Let me just start out by saying I bought this album solely based on the cover. How badass is a machine gun cello? Regardless, when I popped this nifty little bugger into my stereo, I was pleasantly surprised at what I had received. A nice little pop-rock gem considering most music nowadays. The production is very sleek, considering it was mixed by the same man who has worked on the new Good Charlotte record *shudder*
and the sophomore release of the band all the brainless little scene kids love, Escape the Fate. Those, in my opinion, were horrible and commercial as hell, but Symphony Soldier is the type of mainstream music you wouldn’t mind hearing on the radio every now and then, because this, at least, shows that The Cab are in it for the music, which is more than I can say for most radio trash today.
The musicianship on this album is very solid, and admirable for a trio to bring this to life. The writing isn’t anything special, and is based heavily on such cliché pop topics as love and heartbreak. Nonetheless, the songs are made enjoyable with a couple of guest writers who know how to write a catchy hook or two such as the semi-talented but way overrated Bruno Mars and Mr. great-turned-average himself, Adam Levine. I doubt I could do this album justice by reviewing it as a whole, so for this review, I’ll stick to a track-by-track format.
Track 1 – Angel With A Shotgun:
The album starts out with a booming, majestic orchestra, and a choir that makes you think for a split second this is the soundtrack to Avatar. Then, vocalist Alexander DeLeon starts crooning about him being an ’angel with a shotgun’
, and the mellow-ness begins. Decent but honest writing, and a nice falsetto during the chorus is what you get in this slow, but great opener. Around two thirds of the song, guitarist Alex Marshall provides us with a nice sweeping riff, nothing too impressive, but easy to listen to.
Track 2 – Temporary Bliss:
The orchestra, again, starts off this song with Alexander singing alone, then the rest of the band kicks in and then the song gets moving again, with a much better chorus driving the song forward. The song isn’t anything too special, and it does drag a little bit, but if you weren’t too fond of the slow opener, this song is for you.
Track 3 – Bad:
The rather weak pick for the albums single starts off with Alex playing piano overtop of Alexander snapping his fingers and singing about his yearning for a [i]‘bad girl’.[i/] A simple drum pattern is being pounded out by drummer Dean Butterworth as the second verse starts, which leads into the chorus again with a guitar lick which sounds desperate to be ‘fierce’, but is turned down too low in the mix to leave much of an impression.
Track 4 – Endlessly:
Ah.. the song written with Bruno Mars. Endlessly sounds basically the same as the previous three songs, but with better lyrics, as Alexander makes his case that he might not be perfect, but he’s perfect for whatever-girl-this-song-was-written-for, typical Bruno Mars. It’s a sweet, heartfelt song, and the piano played in the background of the track definitely makes this the best song out of the first half of the album.
Track 5 – Animal:
Track 5 begins with a chunky pop rock guitar line, which initially caught my interest, but as the song progressed, I began to gradually lose interest. The piano during every single verse of every song is fine, but the band is really beginning to push it with this. Fortunately, it’s saved by a moderately talented guitar solo. One more chorus, and it’s on to track 6.
Track 6 – Intoxicated:
This song just has Maroon 5 written all over it. The hook, the tone of Alexander’s voice, the ska-sounding riff during the chorus, just screams out how it should belong on Songs About Jane. A mellow solo, which is way shorter than it should be, finds its way into the halfway mark. Still, like most of the songs so far, Intoxicated fades into the general sound of the album, giving little to distinguish itself from the rest of the album.
Track 7 – La La:
What a fantastic song name, so creative. This song has a bit of a Jackson 5 vibe going for it, but that’s what makes the track suffer, because as much as the writing and the voice of Alexander can provide, just reminds us that it’s not Michael Jackson. With that being said, a stupid little Michael Jackson-esque ‘hoo!’ is thrown in around 3:02 for what I presume to be an homage, but ends up being a little stupid. In total, this one’s a bit of a bore.
Track 8 – Her Love Is My Religion:
What if your girlfriends love was a religion? It’s a strange concept, and with most of the lyrics comparing ‘her’ to a god comes off as a little bit creepy. If you can get past that underlying theme, however this song is quite good, and features a melodic chorus that is rather catchy.
Track 9 – Another Me:
It’s at this point of the album I begin wondering if the band even has a bassist, because thus far, he’s virtually non-existent. That aside, this is probably the best (or at least my favorite) track on the album if I had to pick. I prefer the writing on this song way more than the other 11, as Alexander regretfully looks back on a relationship, realizing that he did everything for her, as he wishes the girl good luck on finding someone who’d treat her as well as he did. Something we can all relate to. Another short, quasi-talented solo ends this song on a high note.
Track 10 – Grow Up and Be Kids:
As I take a second look at the credits, I notice that this song was co-written by Pete Wentz. Fabulous. Luckily, it’s well-written as Pete Wentz wasn’t the sole contributor. The song is basically an eccentric take on the whole growing up scenario, but done ala Blink 182 in What’s My Age Again? as the song explores growing older, but still acting like a child. The drum line in the chorus has a pretty bouncy feel, and I do admit I did find myself nodding my head once or twice. HOWEVER, as with pretty much every song so far, it does tend to sound the same, and get tedious after 10 tracks.
Track 11 – Lovesick Fool:
The ballad-iest song of the album sounds pretty similar to the Fray song How to Save A Life. While featuring an emotional vocal performance, the song just drags on and on, and doesn’t really seem to go anywhere, which is one of my biggest pet-peeves in music. However, as previously stated, if you can get past that it’s a sincere, honest ballad.
Track 12 – Living Louder:
The album closer is probably the best song, lyrically speaking on the album, but it’s a disappointment. It contains the cliché, but very powerful lyrics ’My only regret is having regrets’
and the whole song is written as if it’s the dying speech from someone on his deathbed. As the track nears it’s end, it gradually gets louder and would probably make the perfect sing-along concert closer when played live, and with that, the album is done.
The Cab definitely prove that they love what they do, but most of the album is very monotonous, and falls under the oh-so common every-song-sounds-exactly-the-same syndrome we find nowadays. I have a feeling the track-by-track review probably wasn’t the wisest choice for a review, but when you listen to it as whole, or just have it on in the background, it’s much better than analyzing each and every little thing about every song. It’s a mainstream, commercialized album that is damn good considering most modern music today, but that fact aside, it’s just good. If you like pop rock, or a mellow album with emotion and lyrics you can relate to, check it out. You might enjoy it more than you would think.
Download if you must:
Her Love Is My Religion