My Own Private Alaska



by StreetlightRock EMERITUS
August 23rd, 2008 | 14 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With it's screamed vocals and classical piano lines, MOPA intrigues, but its sheer lack of variety and triviality make this album a one-time listen.

There's something intriguing about a band whose description goes something along the lines of ‘Screamed vocals, classical piano and a set of drums’. It’s hard here not to get caught up in a mind wave of musical expectation. Fancy labels and words like ‘jux-ta-po-si-tion’ and ‘ex-per-ri-men-tal scremo’ are perhaps some of the first to cross the mind. And for the most part, MOPA is what you expect. Drawing their inspiration perhaps from their compatriots in the bludgeoning French emo scene, MOPA throw in their own contribution to the mix by doing away with fretboards and relying solely on dark, slithering piano keys and heavy beats to accompany the somewhat tortured screams of their lead man, referred to only as the mysterious ‘M’.

The biggest draw here of course is the interplay of classical piano and screamed vocals – while MOPA certainly are not the first band to use such a combination in their music, their heavy reliance on this mix certainly sets them apart from their contemporaries. The music here is – c’mon, you know the drill – ‘dark’, ‘atmospheric’, others would chuck in ‘beautiful’ for good measure. If only it wasn’t so yawn-inducingly boring and uselessly trivial.

Piano notes run slowly up and down the keys, creating swaying, sweeping melodies, as M, who sounds somewhat unsure of his allegiance to either scremo or black metal, pours himself out in vocal desperation, crying out to be heard about… well, I’m not so sure: ‘Die For Me… If I Say Please’, from the track of the same name is one of the stupidest lines put to record in a while, perhaps trumped only by ‘Kill me twice… kiss me first’ or even ‘Everybody hurts and everybody cries, it’s not a soap, it’s just f'ucking reality!’ Teenage angst, dear M, was passé long before the 90s were out. However, that said, the proverbial cake is undoubtedly taken by the obviously Sesame Street inspired: ‘A!! B!! C!! D!!’ A!! A!B! ABCD!!!! DDEEeee!!!’ from Page of A Dictionary. Befitting the title perhaps, quaint even, but unless a f'ucking alphabet lesson was in order, My Own Private Alaska should instead be focusing on musical sophistication and not filler lyrical triviality.

And while shadowy atmosphere is indeed aplenty, it’s the same damn atmosphere from one song to the other, slow, chugging, plodding step after plodding step, trudging along like a torn figure through mud. It’s an intriguing struggle at first, but its sheer lack of variety and triviality make this album a one-time listen. Jammed forever in second gear, MOPA’s slow tempo, exemplified on songs like Page of a Dictionary and the instrumental First Steps, with their dark atmospherics no saving grace for otherwise sterile (dare I venture Alaskan-esque") album. Some listeners will no doubt embrace the music here, clinging on to what is an admittedly somewhat surreal and unique soundscape, with occasional flashes of a gorgeous piano run intermittently shining it’s way though the plastic sounding and technically lacking drums, another aspect that ruins an album that otherwise seems to hold so much promise in its…premise.

And that is of course perhaps why I’m being harsh. It stems from the fact that (secretly) I desperately want to like this record. The mix of a piano and screamed vocals could be an awesome idea, and indeed, some of the passages here are actually on the verge of sounding beautifully done, if only not ruined by its numerous faults. It’s probably more sad than it is annoying. Perhaps the ultimate case of ‘good idea, poor execution’" You judge that one… or not.

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user ratings (23)

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 23rd 2008


Album Rating: 3.0

great, fair review. I'd have to agree with the lack of variation and how some songs drag on a bit, though I've never heard anything like this

August 23rd 2008


Album Rating: 2.0

This one dedicated to IsItLuck! And If I get round to it, I'll chomp out another one relatively soon.

As for this album, I can see why someone would like it, but eck.

August 23rd 2008


I got this about a month or two ago and I thought it was great when I first listened to it but after a while the novelty of hearing something new wore off. I still think you are being a bit harsh on it but I know what you mean.

August 23rd 2008


Can't find much by these but from what I've heard (one song) the sound okay but not something I could majorly get into.. The idea is good, but if the guy could scream a bit differently/better it would probably improve it greatly.

August 23rd 2008


Album Rating: 2.5

Its a decent enough album...the novelty of the piano/screams wears kind of thin after a while it just me or does this guy sound like he is trying really hard to scream like the guy from DEP?

August 24th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i really enjoyed this album. ive had it for quite some time. i kinda agree with that it wears out after a while but for the most part it was great. it seems like an album whos rating might lower soon

August 25th 2008


A few tiny mistakes like 'ex-per-ri-men-tal screamo' for one, but a good review. I'm glad to see you review again

August 25th 2008


Album Rating: 2.0

lol, no dude, that was completely on purpose. Srcemo. =) Personal wordplay. Ta though!

August 25th 2008


ohshit you got me

September 23rd 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

While it has some of the worst lyrics I've heard in a long time, they've got the drum/scream/piano sound down perfectly. One of my favourite albums in a very long time.

October 20th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

This record had sooo much potential.

The idea of just piano, drums and screaming is amazing.

I hope they do better with the idea next record.

February 8th 2010


sounds good on first listen form me

but i get frusterated with it, because i thing it needs a bit more crunch to the melody,
so hopefully they get like a bassist or something, coz that would be cool

October 27th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

I like the combo, it's refreshing.

However, what I think stands out heavily on this album is the pianist. He's amazing.

As a pianist, I'm inspired by the piano work on this album. It makes me want to go play until my hands bleed.

March 27th 2011


This album would be a fucking 5 if they EVER changed their tempo on it. I mean ever, not more, ever. That being said it is some ridiculously emotional awesomeness.

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