Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Now I don't speak Spanish, Japanese, or French

Jesse McCartney's "Body Language" is nearly everything I hoped it would be. Hyper-cute urban-glossed catchy pop with ridiculous lyrics ("breaking it down articulately" plus FUN WITH LANGUAGES).

I'm open to being convinced otherwise (Jesse does a decent job with "Rock Ya"), but so far, when we're talking about his nominally more R&B direction, Jesse's shown himself to be best with this hyper-cute mid-tempo pop that uses the aforementioned urban sheen to barely disguise just how poppy and kitschy it actually is, as opposed to, say, the ballads or the edgier and less melodic songs. "Body Language" doesn't approach the brilliance of its predecessors "Leavin'" and "How Do You Sleep," but it's a respectable entry into this era of Jesse's work.

In other news: BWO. As I mentioned, Swedish newspaper/tabloid Expressen recently allowed us to listen to the album in advance, but Big Science, the group's fourth studio album, is out tomorrow. I feel pretty pleased with it, but I'm going to elaborate on that in a future post since after allowing myself to indulge on Sunday I cut myself off from the album so I didn't overplay it before I got the full thing properly. As I'm a bit pressed for time now, though, I do want to say that the next single, "Right Here Right Now," is great (though to be completely honest on my first listen and after so much build-up around it, I didn't quite see the big deal; I quickly came to love it, though, and it may very well be my favorite song on the album at this point). Quick favorites (in no particular order) that haven't been fully thought through and are basically based on only one only-just-took-place listen since Sunday:

Right Here Right Now: BWO in sound, but with some more strings. It's not the sometimes menacing electro drama of Prototype, but this is still the BWO we now--maybe more Halcyon Days BWO, which I'm fine with. As I mentioned somewhere, the up-tempo remix of "You're Not Alone" reminded me of September's "Satellites" in its beat and "Right Here Right Now" has a little of that, too, though much toned down and overlapped with those lovely strings and that lovely pretty melody and with some kind of "Chariots Of Fire"-esque choral moments tossed in.

Rise To The Occasion (proper--not Expressen--quality): also mid-tempo-ish, but with more of an up-tempo feel than its technical tempo would make you think. Poppy. A catchy female vocal hook (sung by Märta of Cocktail Studios, according to Oswalds Popcorn) seals the deal on this already catchy song. Oswalds Popcorn compared it to Ace of Base, only modernized, and that's spot-on.

Rhythm Of The Night: the song opens with that classic BWO sound (you'll know what I mean when you hear it--it shows up throughout Prototype). Also really catchy. Wow, I really shouldn't be attempting this at all if I'm not going to be able to put the proper time into coming up with good descriptions until later. Anyway, maybe kind of like a slightly slower "Gomenasai." Not slow, though.

Shoot From The Heart: maybe the most "dance attack"-type song. It's still more on the pop side than the electro side, though.

In Too Deep: I've yet to see anyone else write positively about this song, let alone call it one of their favorites, but it really is for me (I think perhaps its placement and hearing the album through as a whole via Expressen helped). BWO go for one of those washing-over-you mid-tempo songs, but this time it actually works for me instead of seeming too chintzy (and yes, I realize I just got done praising a song with the word "kitschy" a few paragraphs up) and manages to get under my skin. Thankfully, the electro sounds here are smooth instead of that buzzier electro sound used in "Give Me The Night" and "The Bells Of Freedom," which I was really beginning to fear would characterize most of their future work. It was fine for "Give Me The Night," but I like my BWO smoother, a la "Gomenasai."

Thunderbolt: the Empire Music song. The beginning of "Thunderbolt"'s chorus isn't quite as melodic as that of other songs, but it's still a fun song (and it basically has an A chorus and a B chorus anyway), as well as also one of the dancier ones.

That was kind of ridiculously uninformative and poorly descriptive. I'll try to actually do a proper write-up when I have more time. My general comment would be that the sound here is generally more...middle of the road? That's not the right phrase (especially since it comes with a negative connotation), but I wouldn't say you're getting anything edgy or abrasive for most of the album. On the one hand, I'm much more satisfied with it than I was with Fabricator, so it's won at least one fan who was beginning to feel a bit alienated back. On the other hand, I can see it losing them the people who really go in for the harder electro sounds as well as not winning back people who loved Prototype but not much more. I feel really pleased with it, though: I'll admit their experimentation with other genres (see "Love Came Crashing Down" and "Burning Down The House," for example) isn't my preference, but there is enough here of electronic pop BWO--and, more importantly, good electronic pop BWO--that I feel satisfied.

Buy BWO's new album, Big Science, here (physical).

Next up: maybe something about Måns. Or Erik. Or Lily. Or not.


John said...

Somewhere along the line when life slows down a bit, I'm gonna check out BWO. In the meantime, that JMac track is okay, but maybe it needs to grow on me, too. You've got it right on where his sweet spot is musically.

Aaron said...

I'm not so big on BWO - take it or leave it mostly - but great comments. I'm not sure whether I will give the album a listen though...

It'll be interesting to see if Jessie ever will match the success of Beautiful Soul ever again, but it'll never stop him trying seemingly!

Paul said...

i am totally with you on the JMac track. I am hoping that the new rerelease of Departure will reawaken my interest in that cd - perhaps with new tracks i can compile my own standard length cd version of it (if that makes sense)

And BWO - wow. i mean i think i am a bit biased but i really like the album a lot and think it's going to be one of my top albums of the year (though the year is early). It's no secret that i think - along with girls aloud - they are one of the most consistent pop groups of the new millenium. Bonza

Poster Girl said...

John, if I was trying to convince someone to listen to BWO or Jesse, these wouldn't be my starting points, for sure. I do think BWO's "Right Here, Right Now" is maybe the best introduction to them on this album, but I think general consensus is their first album is great and the place to start with them...whenever you have time. The lead single for this latest album isn't very good, in my opinion, but the album is much better than it, luckily.

"Beautiful Soul" = perfect pop song. I know it's easy to criticize it for the lyrics, but it's such a sunny poppy song that it's hard to believe it's American-made!

Paul, absolutely! I'm hoping to be able to do the same. It's great you're thrilled with the new BWO album! :D