Review Summary: X is not The 69 Eyes’ darkest and heaviest album to date like the band proclaimed it to be, but it is a definite return to form
What’s the deal with bands releasing the worst songs from their respectable albums as singles lately? I heard "Red" the other day and it near killed any initial interest I had in a new The 69 Eyes album. To me, The 69 Eyes had declined in quality ever since Paris Kills
and while Devils
still had its share of cool tracks, Back In Blood
, the band’s 2009 outing, was already a distinctly below-average affair. So, taking into account the band’s gradual decline, "Red"’s lack of appeal wasn’t encouraging. Despite this, I still proceeded to check X
out and while it doesn’t quite deliver on its promises (admittedly the band’s darkest and heaviest album, at least that’s what lead-man Jyrki 69 lead everyone to believe), it is the band’s most accomplished work since Paris Kills
What makes the record so solid is that here, The 69 Eyes have successfully managed to channel both their lighter- and goth rock side onto one album in a fitting way. The band has always been at its best when producing melancholic, melodic, mid-tempo goth rock songs that, thanks to Jyrki 69's compelling, deep vocals, creep their way into the listener’s mind. In the later years of their career though, the band have increasingly turned away from the darker vibes of records such as Blessed Be
and Paris Kills
, reaching for their glam roots instead, which has resulted in a more commercial style of rock. On X
, that side is still exhibited, but here the band have finally made it their own and it doesn’t sound totally contrived anymore. What’s best, the gothic side is way better presented on here than it is on any of their other post-2005 records. Songs such as "Black", "If You Love Me The Morning After" and "Borderline" carry with them simple, but strong melodies that harken back to band’s glory days. And when The 69 Eyes mix their lighter, more glam-influenced leanings with their gothic ones, it actually works on X
, as exhibited by the infectious "Tonight" and "I Love The Darkness In You".
There’s nothing bad to say about this album besides obvious statements like, "if you didn’t like the band before, you won’t after X either" and "X doesn’t offer anything particularly new from the band". The 69 Eyes still try to win listeners over with buzzsaw guitar tones, Jyrki 69’s passionate vocals and catchy melodies. Never have they been the darkest of goth rock bands and experimentation is out of the equation for them. But what they do – their own gothic rock style which they dub goth ’n’ roll – they do well. If nothing else, X
proves that The Helsinki Vampires can still play their own formula to satisfactory results, and at this point in their career, that’s all one could ask from them.