George Michael
Older


4.0
excellent

Review

by TheMoonchild USER (128 Reviews)
December 27th, 2016 | 20 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Who gives a fuck about your problems darling, when you can pay the rent?

There seems to be something of an unspoken half-truth in any form of art nowadays that angst is what fuels the best contribution to society from any artist. I call this a half-truth because usually when an artist goes through something like a breakup, they're quick to rush out a reactionary product that often gets a huge overinflation of quality from their fans, that they almost focus more on the context rather than the quality. Don't believe me" Just look at the past decade, which has had a fair share of reactionary breakup albums and then some. Robin Thicke himself managed to rush one out within 3 months of his divorce from Paula Patton! And it's easy to see why an event like that would ignite a creative flame in one's soul- they finally have something to write about, or express their emotions with other people to. And then there's people who live through trauma and after some years of internalizing it, manage to put out their most compelling work yet.

So it goes without saying that the 1990s were a bad time for George Michael- and the biggest reason why can be chalked up to the death of his boyfriend, Anselmo Feleppa, in 1993 from AIDS. Another reason was pure fuckery from his record label, Sony Records, for piss poor promotion for Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. This led to Michael engaging in a bitter legal battle with the label- but as an even bigger blow, he somehow lost the battle. So this mixture of grievance and anger led him to devote 3 years to crafting what would be his third solo effort, Older. One can get the sense from listening to this album that Michael was just about done with being known as the guy who does "Careless Whisper" or "Freedom!"- this album is definitely the most unique musical effort from Michael, as he explores plenty of musical territory he hadn't been previously known for. He covers a whole bunch of bases such as jazz-funk, electropop, soul, R&B and plenty of others, and it definitely makes a good case for why Michael deserves to be seen as a true artist rather than a glorified nostalgia act. Even the album cover and all the promotional imagery for Older shows Michael taking a firm grip on maturity- we only see half his face in grayscale, with a sinister stare, letting fans know this isn't just any Michael affair. Even the video for "Fastlove" shows Michael hide his face half in the shadows for the majority of it.

With how many different styles Older takes on, it's a wonder it's as consistent as it is. For nearly an hour, Michael takes us on a musical bumpy ride with plenty of ups and downs. When the album is serious, it's dead serious in tone- all beginning with the 7-minute opener "Jesus to a Child", which has a very mournful tone despite its very soulful, Bossa Nova sound. The lyrics are a tribute to Feleppa himself, with the overall message that lovers, even in death, never truly fade away. And there are several other similar sounding tracks with a melancholy air throughout the album- even catchier tracks like "Fastlove" have an air of bitterness to them that make them all the more intriguing. In the midst of pleading someone to let him fuck them just for a quickie, he has a moment of weakness where he admits he's doing it to patch up a hole left by a lover in absence ("In the absence of security, I made my way into the night/Stupid Cupid keeps on calling me, but I see loving in his eyes/I miss my baby..."). It's little moments like this that contribute to Older's unique atmosphere, with even the brightest and most upbeat moments being peppered with a bit of a sardonic sense of humour ("All that bullshit conversation, baby can't you read the signs""). This is even most evident on "Star People" which is clearly a jab at celebrity worship and how people ignore their bad actions while also forgetting said bad actions could be the result of a bad childhood ("Who gives a fuck about your problems darling/When you can pay the rent""). And all this is done over a funky, jazzy beat with some of Michael's most soulful vocal delivery to date.

Like most of his stuff, Michael's vocals are the strongest point of the album. Knowing when to go into sexy territory while also belting it out when he needs to, Michael is always the strongest point of his albums as his profound vocal delivery sells the material he sings perfectly. There are a number of weaker tracks here- the aforementioned "Star People" is never quite as clever as it thinks it is on the surface, but Michael sells it with his vocal performance alone. Similarly "You Have Been Loved" isn't quite as powerful as "Jesus to a Child", but his emotional vocal performance, again, is what seals the deal. Yet these weaker moments are always balanced by the number of real, genuine tunes here, like the infectiously catchy "The Strangest Thing" and irresistibly jazzy "Spinning the Wheel".

If there's one album that must stand as a defining moment for George Michael as a genuine artist, it's Older, which not only saved him from sheer irrelevance but also proved to the world that he wasn't just some flash in the pan catchy pop tunes from the 80s. Older is a true testament to his power as a solo artist and his penchant for writing emotionally compelling material. Even if the emotional tones is all the album has going for it, it's still one gloriously and aggressively lovable album with tunes that will for sure be in your head for days.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
TheMoonchild
December 26th 2016


1129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

R.I.P. George. Truly one of the most underrated singers of our time.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
December 26th 2016


17896 Comments


nice one

thinking of doing one for Listen Without Prejudice this coming week



Digging: Townes Van Zandt - Delta Momma Blues

TheMoonchild
December 26th 2016


1129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That too is a very underrated album.

TheMoonchild
December 26th 2016


1129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Whoops, double post.

Kascade
December 27th 2016


117 Comments


Remeber kids, ABC's before STD's.

Sinternet
December 27th 2016


17230 Comments


now that he's dead are we gonna get 5.0 reviews for every one of his albums?

TVC15
December 27th 2016


9788 Comments


So seriously does any of his solo work match or better the awesomeness of Wham!'s Make it Big?

Digging: Pixies - Surfer Rosa

TwigTW
December 27th 2016


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If you like Make It Big, you should check out Faith.

Digging: Elvis Costello - Look Now

VaxXi
December 27th 2016


4356 Comments


Listen Without Prejudice is a genuine 5. Faith is just OK.

TwigTW
December 27th 2016


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed, but he's looking for something that sounds like Make It Big.

VaxXi
December 27th 2016


4356 Comments


Well, something that "matches" or "better", and LWP is deff. better :p

FullOfSounds
December 27th 2016


15764 Comments


LWP has Praying for Time and that's like the best song ever

TVC15
December 27th 2016


9788 Comments


Of course Doof is responsible for dropping the avg for this by .2 and thanks I'll check those out

VaxXi
December 27th 2016


4356 Comments


if you are looking for something in the vein of Wham! then listen to Faith

if you want something better, but doesnt sound the same, then listen to Listen Without Prejudice

TwigTW
December 27th 2016


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

deff.

undertakerpt
December 29th 2016


1573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

POS'd. Great review. I've wanted to review this since I first joined the site, but i'm glad I didn't as my fanboyish work could never live up to this documentation. Good stuff. I also love the way on the inner sleeve of the album he has a (joint) "roller" credited. Good ol George!

KILL
December 29th 2016


81232 Comments


jeeeeeeeeeeesus to a child

random
January 1st 2017


2681 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is awesome.

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Casavir
May 1st 2018


2045 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

One of the most emotionally resonant and well-crafted albums of its kind.

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Casavir
May 1st 2018


2045 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The Strangest Thing is one of his best tracks.



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