Review Summary: “Look who played a trick on you again”
Andrew W.K is an underappreciated, misunderstood genius. It’s this misinterpretation by people that sees brushstrokes of brilliance going over the unsuspecting masses’ heads. After all, on the surface he just looks like a dirty, overaged frat boy bouncing around shouting contrived platitudes. But look past this convincingly false face and you will uncover a world of genuine satire; subject matter that is held together with such a straight face it will have you believing he loves the kind of drivel attached to a track like “Party Hard.” His intentions of having a good time are honest however, but back when I Get Wet
came out, the American college culture was something he didn’t enjoy. The final product was an album that mercilessly poked and prodded at the subject and made it look convincingly real in the process. He did it so well in fact it’s the album he’s typically known for, and why so many have preconceptions of him having about as much depth as puddle.
This is the thing though, there is range to his music and it's one of the main reasons why he's so interesting; there is musical diversity here. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a genre jumping wizard, but a couple of surprise U-turns throughout his career smash any one-dimensional brandishes. W.K’s first three LPs were in the “live fast, die young” territories, but if you dig a little deeper into the discography you’ll uncover a few surprises from the body of his work, namely the classically inspired 55 Cadillac
LP. This offering was a culminated cause and effect from a strange lawsuit against a guy using the alias Steev Mike – a conceptual pseudonym W.K had actually used on previous albums – for legal ownership of his name, which brought itself to ridiculous levels where Andrew couldn’t even use his own name in certain areas of the US. Nevertheless, after the dust settled from it all, the result for his forth-outing was a surprisingly authentic collection of classical pieces that reflected a yin to the dark yang he’d just overcome; a moment of reflection and calm. Indeed, when it comes to Andrew’s music there is an over exaggeration ingrained in every fibre of every songs, but when you have a classical LP and a Gundam covers album, it’s safe to say you don’t always do things in a straight line.
And yet, even with my praise for his outward thinking, ironic writing and exuberant music, I’ve never actually been all that into it. Seeing and appreciating what he’s made thus far is half the battle, but there’s something very flatline and undiversified about it all when listening to an album in full. Did I expect anything less from You’re Not Alone
? You can bet your ass I didn’t. Andrew proves one thing with this album: he’s always had a vision. The bombastic album opener “The Power of Partying” has the same kind of effect you’d receive from a film studio introduction before a movie starts; you know, the kind of epic 21st Century Fox commencement before it all kicks off. This overproduced welcoming is a taster to what you’ll be hearing for the next 52 minutes. Songs like “Music Is Worth Living For” and “Party Mindset” contain an overdose of glittery, sugary electronics, ecstatically cheerful melodies and over the top falsetto backing vocals, while the reassuring “The Feeling of Being Alive,” “In Your Darkest Moments” and “Confusion of Clarity” serve as therapeutic breathers that emit the kind of brainwashing Patrick Swayze taught to kids in Donnie Darko. They feel both horribly cringy and oddly sincere, and it's these tracks that sum up exactly what Andrew W.K is all about; having as much fun as possible and seeing the brighter side of things. There’s a reason why everything feels so grandiose, silly and fake, and he rides the pink unicorn to immeasurable levels here.
Basically, what I’m saying is don’t go into this expecting anything other than party anthems. The organ screams at the start of “Give Up on You,” the slow, epic Meatloaf ballad influence underpinning the song and the theatrical melancholy and guitar solo wails bring all the fun-loving drink music you could ask for in 2018. There’s nothing cutting-edge here, it all sounds like an album made back in 2003, but that’s half the charm. Normally I’d critique the bloated tracklist, but everything is in excess, and that’s why it’s so hard to pin down a guy like W.K; you never know if he’s doing it on purpose or not. Andrew W.K’s music is like a coin tipped on its side, it could fall either way depending on the individual listening to it, some will find sincerity and be uplifted by it; others will find it so blindingly gaudy and hard to stomach. But I can say one thing: it’s Andrew W.K doing what he’s always done, and whether you see that as a good thing or not is entirely based on how you not only digest your music, but view life. Is the glass half empty? That’s for you to decide.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A