Review Summary: New Politics return with another "perfectly fine" record.New Politics
are a Danish Pop Rock Band that are neither really new or really political (at least in recent years). From their punk rock self-titled debut to their 2015 indie pop-rock album Vikings
they have shown that they are experts at making “perfectly okay” music. And this sentiment is no more clear than on their most recent effort, Lost in Translation.
Lost in Translation, while never really bad, never reaches the wholesome constantly catchy pop-rock of their 2013 album A Bad Girl in Harlem
or the obnoxious dull pop from their 2015 album Vikings
. Both lyrically and production wise the album falls on that line in the middle of both albums while never completely deviating enough to be bad or great.
The album kicks off well enough with the track “CIA” which shows the bands “political” side by ‘taking on’ the issue of the CIA. Their approach is, expectedly, completely on the nose although this is not inherently a bad thing as the song is undoubtedly catchy and memorable even with its lazy lyrics.
“My house, I break the law (Break the law) In my house, I'm like the CIA”
The lyrics overall are some of the weakest New Politics have put out. Tracks like
“Lifeboat” and the previously mentioned “CIA” both have chorus consisting of only a handful of words, instead opting to repeat the same phrases only offering slight variations during their endings.
“Lifeboat, l-lifeboat, l-lifeboat Lifeboat, our lifeboat is sinking”
The rest of the tracks have lyrics that never really are interesting enough to note or quite bad enough to stand out.
One of the more questionable moments on the album comes from Rivers Cuomo
of all people with his feature on the track “Tell Your Dad”. Besides being yet another controversial thing Cuomo decided to be a part of in 2017, his feature adds nothing of substance to the already forgettable track. It doesn’t help that both Cuomo and Boyd both occasionally sound identical which leads me to wonder what they were going by including Cuomo on the track... well besides name recognition.
That is the biggest issue with Lost in Translation. besides a few exceptions, most of the tracks are forgettable. Without Cuomo’s questionable feature on “Tell Your Dad” it would be yet another completely forgotten track added to the runtime. Both tracks “Color Green” and “East Coast Thrilla” go beyond being forgettable and are actually quite bad. The former being a mid-tempo slog and the latter also being a mid-tempo slog with the added “rapping” during its chorus which sounds, quite bad.
That is not to say that the album is bad of course. Album highlight, "Madeline", shows New Politics at the top of their game. With an infectious sing-along chorus, fun bouncy piano lead, and an oscillating tempo that keeps the listener interested throughout and stands strong outside of the album. Similarly “Lifeboat”, excluding its repetitive lyrics, offers a sense of fun that is not too dissimilar to their A Bad Girl in Harlem
album, complete with an interesting backing rhythm that occasionally breaks through the cracks of the “downbeat” drums throughout.
Instrumentally the album feels lost. While none of the songs sound completely out of place or downright detestable, the mish-mash middle ground that they strive for between both A Bad Girl in Harlem
never quite works out. The track “Color Green” reeks of Imagine Dragons
-esque worship with soft pads, stadium drums, and vocals completely drunk on reverb. “East Coast Thrilla” also includes similar production with the added advent of some rising synths during the end of the chorus which sounds out of place and almost ear-grating. The track “Lifted” serves as the most incohesive track instrumentally as the ballad-esque vocals are jarringly mirrored by chanting and synths. In a sharp contrast the other ballad on the album, Clouds, takes what didn’t work in Lifted and fixes it. The sound is cohesive, the horns add some nice counter melodies and harmonies and it ends the album on a poppy yet good note.
Lost in Translation is a mish-mash of good and bad ideas brought together by inconsistent production and uninspired lyrics. It isn’t bad, and it isn’t really great. It once again shows New Politics riding the line between “bad” and “great” instead making a perfectly “okay” or “good” album most will forget the bulk of after finishing it.