Monday, August 16, 2010

Hit the lights, start the show

Darin's new album has only two songs that can even kind of be argued to be something other than a ballad. Before the album's release, we'd heard at least part of every song on it except two. There are only ten songs on it.

01 Microphone by poppostergirl

And you know what? Despite all that, it's pretty good. I can't lie and say that I wouldn't have been happier if he'd delivered a few more songs in the vein of "Breathing Your Love" or "Paradise" ("OK (Dangerous Game)" is the closest you'll find to the RedOne-heavy sound of Darin's previous album), but overproduced '80s power ballad-style drums and synth washes behind classic melodies suits him.

Mutt Lange-loving producer Tony Nilsson is probably guiding force in this stylistic change. "You're Out Of My Life" still comes across as a lost John Waite-meets-REO-Speedwagon hit from twenty-five years ago, which is nothing but a compliment. "Only You Can Save Me" and "Drowning" continue in the same vein and count as some of Darin's strongest ballads ever, while Darin's generally electronic cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" adds in little U2 guitar flourishes. The pseudo-uptempo "Microphone," featured on this year's Swedish Idol, is a highlight; it falls somewhere between inspirational self-affirmation and cocky boasts but finds the right musical mix of string-using uplift, those '80s drums, and modern electronic beats to avoid being as cornball as you'd expect.

The only two songs on the album which aren't co-written by Nilsson are end-of-August ballad "Endless Summer" and "I'll Be Alright," an acoustic guitar and string-featuring ballad written solely by Darin, but they slot in nicely next to the other tracks, even if they are noticeably different.

Lovekiller is an enjoyable album, pushed along by strong melodies, a good production concept, and Darin's always pop-ready voice. Now, if only we could get someone to start making modern day "Livin' On A Prayer"s...

Darin's fifth album, Lovekiller, can be purchased here (physical) or here (digital).


Aaron said...

I'm quite cautiously excited about this - MASSIVELY looking forward to it, with it being Darin and all, but kinda disappointed it's not another dancey album..but hey - I'm still pumped!

Paul said...

I'm really liking this album as it goes. Microphone is a great tune and definitely worthy of advertising the new season of Idol... There's something about the ballads that don't feel like it's too down tempo and adding the somewhat upbeat tunes scattered throughout is a nice touch. I've listened a couple of times and about to listen one more time and then write up a review :)

Paul said...

PS - nice to have you back again! Glad it was a short break this time!!

Damian said...

Nice to get you back PG!
This album actually had enough of free space to include some uptempo-songs but I think they wanted to keep whole coception and idea exactly this way and I for me album is one of the best (or simple the best) albums of the year. The only thing making me sad is that we can look at this album like at Elin Lanto's male version of album (it has a lot of common things in new Toni Nilsson's direction) but Elin has flopped as massively as I couldn't even imagine when Darin's album obviusly gonna be #1 in chart next week!

Poster Girl said...

Aaron, that can be a tough transition to make. The good news is that the ballads here are generally pretty good--"Drowning" and "Only You Can Save Me" would be tough not to like, I think.

Paul, a good point--the ballads feel like they have more movement than they would if there were all, say, singer-songwriter style, thanks to the production (mainly those drums, I think--they give the song a beat that functions as a pulse). Thanks for the welcome :)

Yup, Damian, I think you're right about them keeping it this way due to the concept behind it (though I'm also guessing Darin wasn't given the money to go record a bunch of songs and then narrow it down to the best, forcing him to record fewer and therefore have fewer options for the album). Elin Lanto's album being Tony's earlier experiment with this style is something I definitely agree with. Poor Elin--it's such a shame that, out of all the songs her label (think it was the label according to Scandipop--whoever the people in charge behind that decision were) could have forced her to send to Melodifestivalen, they chose the one they did (though regardless of their choice this style is so produced that, if you don't have an actual live band playing it and an excellent singer, I think it might tend to fall a bit flat live).