Review Summary: Party Odd
Andrew W.K. has certainly changed his style up since he arrived on the scene. His debut 'I Get Wet' was a poppy party metal bonanza full of tons of great tracks to start a party to, and his sophomore attempt, 'The Wolf', was more of a collection of feel good anthems with a feel of victory about them. With his third album, 'Close Calls with Brick Walls', he just decides to go all over the place. There isn't really a set theme with this album, nor a real single genre to file it under, but if it had to be described, it'd be an odd comingle of geek rock, punk rock, and some elements of Queen style classic rock.
Opening this 18 track album is "I Came for You" which is one of the slower and more calm songs on the album, showing off a piece of W.K.'s piano skills. Almost immediately, you notice that the gruff and looseness of Andrew's voice has been organized significantly. His singing voice, while not fantastic on a technical level, has changed from one kind of unique to another. In more upbeat songs, his voice can be described as a bit wacky and cartoonish which is very appropriate for his partying hard attitude.
After two calm and progressive tracks, it explodes into what you know Andrew W.K. for: partying! "Not Going to Bed" is a creatively set up song and one of the only songs on the album that is specifically about partying. What follows is the feel-good inspirational track "You Will Remember Tonight" which sounds like something high school graduates would walk to. It's very cheesy, but it's fun and will put a smile on your face. Afterwards is "Pushing Drugs" which is an incredibly catchy, bouncy, almost protopunk sounding song and is one of the shining moments of the album. It's electronic beat mixing with W.K.'s superb piano work makes for quite the experience.
By now, you've noticed the diversity of this LP. Every song has it's own special sound and no two tracks will feel like repeats. There's a good mix of slower, anthemic songs like "Hand on the Place", catchy and poppy tracks like "One Brother", and classic rock tracks like "Mark My Grace" which has a very clear inspiration from Queen, what with the distortion on the guitar riffs at the beginning and the build up to an epic pre-verse. Despite the many changes, Andrew still remembers to bring the party to the people with tracks like "Las Vegas, Nevada" with it's beat made for dancing and lyrics about having grand old time in Sin City. Then there's "I Want To See You Go Wild" which explodes into a crazy party beat after some fun piano riffage. This is vintage Andrew W.K.. While it doesn't have the heavy metal sound of 'I Get Wet', it certainly has the well done piano work and the good time, party hardy lyrics.
Despite the somewhat large number of tracks, 'Close Calls with Brick Walls' clocks in at about 48 minutes, which is the perfect time for an album like this. While it isn't 100% perfect for a party soundtrack like his freshman outing, it is certainly appropriate for a casual listen every once in a while. The new sound fits Andrew quite well and this isn't something you'd exclusively listen to at parties. My only real issues are that there are a few filler tracks like "Golden Eyed Dog" that feel pretty pointless and aren't necessary, and the production quality isn't quite as good as his previous efforts. Even if you didn't enjoy the mindlessness of his first album, I recommend giving 'Close Calls with Brick Walls' a shot.