Review Summary: Blue October let the beatz drop
Blue October may be a band that is detested by many for that one big single, "Hate Me," but they've always been good enough to distinguish themselves from their peers. They've certainly been around long enough, as their 1997 debut album The Answer
shows. And yet despite having that big hit, it had felt like the band had never capitalized on their potential, and thus despite improving album sales, in 2011 Blue October are back to being on an indie label for the first time in a decade with their eighth album Any Man in America
, and with this album they have finally unleashed what they had in them for so long, and in a way that will undoubtedly make kvlt listeners run for the hills.
To put it simply, Blue October has combined two of the most detestable genres in popular music today, radio rock and the new brand of R&B/pop/hip-hop, and somehow made a damn near-masterpiece in the process.
The mastermind behind Any Man in America
is, of course, the band's frontman Justin Furstenfeld. The album takes its inspiration from his divorce with his wife and the separation from his three year-old daughter, Blue. Furstenfeld's lyricism may be far from Shakespearian, but what's important is the emotion he is able to convey through his words. With lines like "Let me start with a 'let you go'" it is obvious that he isn't looking to mask his words in a veil of pretention. While some listeners would cringe at his Violent J impression in the title track, where he essentially tells everyone to go *** themselves, others will be able to see the raw emotion that he's letting loose. Backed with the knowledge that these songs are drawn from his experiences in the most direct way possible, these songs have emotional power rather than the vague doldrums of a faux teen angst that should have been left behind long ago. As generic as a line like "Reached down to the pit of my soul/Found things that I didn't wanna know" is, it has weight.
Musically, the album is also quite sound. You won't be getting any face-melting solos (other than an awesome muted trumpet solo in the fourth track), but you'll find little fault in the production, which is as polished as it should be. The mainstream nature of Any Man in America
can occasionally lead to some puzzling moments, such as a guest rap in the title track, or in "Drama Everything," which starts off as an auto-tuned electro pop delight but oddly builds to a pedestrian chorus that could've been lifted from any 3 Doors Down song. Across the board, however, the quirks in Furstenfeld's voice and melodies are more than enough to redeem Blue October, and it is this infectious balance of pop, hip-hop, and radio rock that brings us songs as irresistable as "The Money Tree" and "You Waited Too Long," though the album's best track is the heartwrenching opener "The Feel Again (Stay)," where sadness is the prevailing emotion rather than anger, indifference, or pride as in other songs.
When it comes down to it, it's hard to imagine anyone who could really dislike Any Man in America
. Not every song is as emotionally compelling as the last, but even in its most insipid moments it's hard to find any substantial fault here, and the fact that Blue October exists in a genre almost entirely devoid of such intelligence makes Any Man in America
even better. Color me addicted.
"The Feel Again (Stay)"
"For The Love"
"You Waited Too Long"