t.A.T.u.
Dangerous and Moving


2.5
average

Review

by Aeri USER (42 Reviews)
August 14th, 2021 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Moving with momentum, just 200 KM/H in the wrong goddamn lane…

I’m going to outright blame Gonzo for this. I hadn’t really thought about this band for years until reading his recent 200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane piece, let alone with any serious critical mindset. My experience with the now defunct Russian pseudo-lesbian pop rock duo t.A.T.u. (Christ, I really hate typing that band name) mostly stemmed from an unapologetic teenage enjoyment of the band’s greatest hits – from ‘Not Gonna Get Us’, to ‘Show Me Love’, to that one… other song – to another form of teenage ‘acknowledgement’ of the band when I discovered that the music videos could be, uh… quite a sight to behold.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I might have cherry picked a fair bit throughout the band’s discography, but I liked what I heard when finding something that really stuck with me. Those borderline goddamn screamed vocals Julia Volkova delivers during the ‘Show Me Love’ ’show me love, show me love, give me all that I want’ bridge? Easily one of my favourite vocal lines of all time. It’s just unfortunate, however, that it was these exact vocal lines I loved so much that actually ended up eventually tanking Volkova’s career (alongside mutual relationships breaking down and lacklustre solo material, of course).

For those who don’t know, t.A.T.u. was formed by Russian producer Ivan Shapovalov, who managed the project until 2004. This is the guy who came up with the lesbian schtick, FYI. It was a marketing ploy to capitalise on the ‘cultural fascination’ with lesbian schoolgirls… and regardless of how you might feel about this decision morally, it worked. It worked very well.

However, it was also Shapovalov who happened to be the person in studio also pushing the two to give more than perhaps they were physically capable of; to give harder, more fierce vocal delivery, bordering on shouting. And while Lena Katina would (rather wisely, in hindsight) refuse to potentially damage her vocal cords by doing so, Volkova did not. This is why the voice cracks heard throughout the ‘Not Gonna Get Us’ ’they don’t understand us and ’they’re not gonna get us' bridge or the ‘Clowns (Can You See Me Now?)’ pre-chorus ’can you see?’ are so prominent; Julia Volkova was singing her f**king heart out at Shapovalov’s insistence, and ultimately she paid for it in the long run.

Even during the recording process for the band’s earliest works, Volkova was already developing vocal nodes due to constantly overworking her voice. In 2012, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. By 2016, the surgery required to remove the cancer resulted in permanent damage to her vocal nerve, almost completely destroying her singing capabilities. If you happened to have checked out the band’s final album Waste Management released in 2009, you might have also noticed how flat Julia Volkova’s vocals are compared to previous t.A.T.u. material. Not bad, or poorly delivered, just far more restrained and kept within her comfort zone. Well… this is why, but unfortunately the damage was already done.

And it’s also something of a shame that in spite of such damaging effort, Dangerous and Moving really isn’t all that special.

Sure, the album opens fine enough. I’m talking about ‘All About Us’, though – the introductory ‘Dangerous and Moving (Intro)’ is pointless, literally recycling the first minute of the album’s title track before fading out where the vocals would have come in. ‘All About Us’, on the other hand, is a solid pop-rock track and one of the band’s most recognisable songs for good reason. Instrumentally, the song features a thumping four punch beat that carries a sense of urgency throughout the verses, whilst Troy MacCubbin delivers on the rockier side of things guitar-wise. It’s catchy and fun. Elsewhere, ‘Loves Me Not’ similarly offers a straight up pop-rock good time. Yes, the lyrics are cheese-incarnate, but this is easily one of the most straightforwardly rock inspired tracks on the album. If you happen to check out the live version featured on the Truth – Live in St. Petersburg DVD/album, I’m sure you’ll notice MacCubbin couldn’t resist throwing in a simple, yet entertaining guitar solo.

Elsewhere, ‘Sacrifice’ again delivers more energetic material, gradually built around a simple clean guitar lick before finally exploding into the titular refrain ’I will sacrifice, I will sacrifice’, enthusiastically backed up with hammering guitar chords and a snappy electronic drum beat that almost certainly draws from hip-hop inspiration. Again, it’s hardly the most versatile lyrical direction, however Volkova’s final bellow of ’all I have in life, sacrifice, sacrifice’ literally screams with emotion. You can, however, also hear the toll it clearly took on her voice to achieve that delivery; her vocals throughout the cleaner sections of the track are raw to all hell.

And, again unfortunately, it would appear that such vocal strain is precisely why so much of the album feels neutered, as large portions of the tracklist are dedicated to mostly lacklustre ballads that tend to keep Volkova more to her comfort zone. Now, don’t get me wrong – this is 100% the right decision morally and health-wise, however the material just doesn’t hold up.

For starters, ‘Cosmos (Outer Space)’ is pretty damn forgettable. The percussion side of things is absolutely phoned in, possessing not even a fragment of the punchy freight train drum performance of ‘Not Gonna Get Us’, and as for the lyrics… they’re entirely unremarkable. The constant repetitions of ’outer space’ reach for stellar heights, with a clear intention of vocally evoking some kind of ethereal cosmic vibe, but it really starts to grate after a while. Sure, Volkova still pushes into the higher register here and there throughout the track, but it’s still fairly restrained compared to previously mentioned superior tracks. And, ultimately, it’s all for a lost cause if the material feels lazily written.

Elsewhere, ‘Gomenasai’ throws some piano-driven instrumentals into the mix, but the dreary verses and similarly drab chorus drifts on by with about as much staying power as a weak summer breeze. It’s pleasant enough at face value, but again very forgettable. Immediately after, we also find ourselves almost experiencing some form of strange teenage deja vue as ‘Craving (I Only Want What I Can’t Have)’ seems to be recycling the exact same pace and vibe as the previous song, however it’s thankfully a significant improvement over the boredom of ‘Gomenasai’. For starters, the chorus is infinitely more evocative compared to the song’s predecessor, with Katina and Volkova playing off each other perfectly to deliver some genuinely captivating vocal harmonies. Fine, the verses are still pretty paint-by-numbers, but the beautifully chaotic instrumentals throughout the bridge and following final chorus sees things off nicely.

That being said, there are still a few more missteps to take account of.

‘We Shout’ is sweetly delivered, yet painfully drab, with a clumsy electronic mid-section thrown in out of nowhere in an attempt no doubt to bring some life to the track. ‘Friend or Foe’ and ‘Perfect Enemy’ both attempt to capture some of the pop-rock energy of more enthralling tracks within t.A.T.u.’s discography, however the former really just feels like a less ferocious, diluted incarnation of ‘Loves Me Not’ (minus the bizarre electro-rock breakdown that actually ends up being rather fun). On the other hand, while ‘Perfect Enemy’ certainly plays with some interesting ideas, with a pleasant recurring chirping melody cropping up here and there and an instrumental backbone clearly drawing inspiration from the realms of hip-hop, and for the most part it sounds good while doing so. There’s just nothing here lyrically (and vocally) that stands out, sadly.

Thankfully, Dangerous and Moving does end on a high. ‘Objzienka Nol’ carries something of a more menacing rock atmosphere, and alongside the constantly thundering bass beat and stabbing guitar chords, Katina and Volkova sound right at home whilst singing in their native language before reverting to English once more for the finale. Bringing back some of the more ‘Not Gonna Get Us’-esque instrumentals for a track firmly rooted in energetic pop-rock, ‘Dangerous and Moving’ is indeed essentially ‘Not Gonna Get Us 2.0’ and finishes things off nicely. True, the vocals are a hell of a lot more restrained compared to the triumphant delivery of ’they’re not gonna get us’, but the album’s title track remains enthralling throughout, and also features one of the most surprising changes in pace of the band’s entire career; a full on breakdown during the bridge with downtuned chugga chug guitar chords, scraping picks on guitar strings, and a simple-yet-effective guitar solo that probably could have done with more room to breathe within the mix… but we’ll take it (again, I advise you check out the Truth – Live in St. Petersburg version for what was most likely the originally intended solo – it’s much better).

So, all in all… Dangerous and Moving is pretty tame compared to the band’s superior debut. Whether or not this was due to studio conflict re; Volkova’s increasingly strained vocals resulting in less euphoric vocal lines, or simply an intended change in direction and pace resulting in more subdued material, it has to be said that the second English album featuring the world’s favourite Russian pseudo-lesbian pop-rock duo just doesn’t hit the ground running like the record’s predecessor. Sure, t.A.T.u’s material has hardly been the deepest or most innovative (aside from the fact that openly presenting two teenage pop singers as lesbians in early 2000s Russia could have easily ended very poorly), but the best of their discography always carried some emotional weight, no matter how manufactured or strategically constructed it might have been.

And, ultimately, this is what the greatest moments of Dangerous and Moving live and breathe… it’s just a shame that while there are some bright spots, the rest of the album feels lacklustre, charging forward at 200 KM/H in the wrong damn lane.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Aerisavion
August 14th 2021


3145 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Rusty as hell - as always, feedback welcome.



I wish I liked this more.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2021


18368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice!



Will read this later. Good choice for review

Aerisavion
August 14th 2021


3145 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Cheers bud - I don't know if it was already floating around but I gotta admit I lifted 'pseudo-lesbian' from your review.



It's literally the perfect description, I can do no better.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2021


61289 Comments


Nice, good to see you back!
Will peep this in a sec

Aerisavion
August 14th 2021


3145 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Cheers Johnny!



Also I just noticed I incorrectly formatted t.A.T.u. like 8 times so had to fucking fix all of them.

Brabiz
August 14th 2021


2236 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Debut is so good, yet everything after just sort of lacks that energy

MrSirLordGentleman
August 14th 2021


15343 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Certainly an album you don't expect to get a review in 2021. Nice job!



All About Us is top tier 00's pop

Aerisavion
August 14th 2021


3145 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Cheers!

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
August 15th 2021


18368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Cheers bud - I don't know if it was already floating around but I gotta admit I lifted 'pseudo-lesbian' from your review."



i'm honoured. and for the name drop in the review haha.



super review, as always man. really informative. i didn't know about Volkova. that's pretty f-d up. guess we will likely never see a reunion of note.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
August 15th 2021


18368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i actually don't mind this. it's just more of the same only not quite as sharply written.



"‘Dangerous and Moving (Intro)’ is pointless"



I definitely agree with this, but the instrumental behind the track is so good, they probably wanted people to hear it as much as possible haha

Aerisavion
August 15th 2021


3145 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

There’s a really interesting 2-3 hour Russian documentary video on the band after Volkova decided to get into politics a year or so ago (yup) - you can watch it with English subs and while I haven’t seen the whole thing, there are some interesting points made about how Shapovalov treated the girls alongside behind the scenes footage of Volkova arguing with him.



The dude is basically like “you either shout or you’re not singing anything on the record at all.”



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-lvHKc8_9k



Yeah ‘Dangerous and Moving’ is a lot of fun, I just love how they were like “aight we’re gonna go metal breakdown for a sec” and proper chugga chugged for a full minute.



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