It’s Just the Soul that Matters

For a couple of years some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.

Twenty Øne Piløts – BLURRYFΛCE (2015)

Here’s a band I know nothing about! Tim didn’t know anything about them either, but that didn’t stop him from sharing. He also reviewed it, but we’ll get there in a minute.

From the moment the album started, I wasn’t sure I was really going to enjoy this. It just seems kind of uncreative, but maybe part of that is that it just isn’t my style (Fairly Local was my least favorite in that regard). I try and be open minded and objective, but the only song on this that I didn’t get tired of rather quickly was Tear in My Heart. We Don’t Believe What’s on TV was okay. Any of the other songs I’d just probably skip past if I heard them again.

I did like the message behind Stressed Out, but the weird vocals at the end really turned me off. And I kind of liked the reggae breakdown sections of Ride, but only kind of. The last two minutes of The Judge were pretty interesting and good and made me glad I didn’t just skip past it. I looked up the two bonus tracks (which were previously on some other stuff) and Lovely was okay. will also give them credit for being pretty self-aware. 2.25/5

Here’s what my friends had to say:

“So on first listen this seemed the formulaic product of the pop trends toward dancey electronic and hiphop music. On second listen, I thought, there’s some decent movement and composition going on, if I can get over the sound. But thats a pretty tough contingency. Sound is a big deal with music.

The other thing with this was that while the overall theme of insecurity and self-bashing was offering a nice continuity to the music, it got a bit much. Its the type of stuff that everybody feels, and we all try to cope with in our own way, but the lyrics almost seemed overly self-pitying at times, which seems weird for me to think since I love tracks like Creep, or Only in Dreams.

It doesn’t surprise me Stressed Out is topping the charts these days. It was stuck in my head all night Tuesday. Its a decent track, nice variety in parts, catchy as all get out. I don’t dig the rapping. I’m ok with a bit, but this track could use more singing.

Favorite track was The Judge. It had a good rhythm/melody and the reggae ukulele thing was a great changeup for the album. Good sing-along track.

So, I respect this as a pretty good album from pop music, but its not really my thing, especially the amount of rapping.” 3.6/5 – Spencer

“Let me start by saying, it was really hard for me to not give this album 4 stars. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with the first track, and didn’t think I would like it. BUT the song changed about halfway through, and I found myself really grooving. It took about 3 songs for me to get into the style, but I found I really enjoyed it once I knew what to expect.

I think the band is incredibly creative. They have a very unique sound, and it just feels highly intelligent, while retaining a certain level of musicality I wouldn’t expect.

The Christian rock theme going on was a bit surprising…but honestly it was so organic you wouldn’t notice it unless you listened closely.

Ultimately I think the album wasn’t very strong towards the end. It felt very front loaded to me. If it had maintained the energy of the opening by the end I think I would have been more inclined to the four stars I mentioned. I have listened to a couple other albums since I shared, and honestly, I can see why they can sell out the Vivint Area in a matter of days, and easily sell a high number of tickets in excess of $100 each. They are solid and consistent, with a unique sound (but they are by no means going to be one of the greats).” 3/5 – Tim

Toto – IV (1982)

If asked what songs Toto sings, I probably only could have come with with Africa. I couldn’t have even hummed any other tunes. I couldn’t have named any albums, either. However as soon as Rosanna came on, I knew I had heard it before. If I didn’t know I was listening to Toto, I probably couldn’t have told you who sang it. The point is to say I’ve never really bothered to find out anything about Toto past the one song of theirs most people cover, and that I really like what I hear. It’s an obvious product of ’80s rock, but there’s also a healthy dose of jazz in there which I didn’t really expect.

I wasn’t a super fan of I Won’t Hold You Back. I don’t mind ballads, but I did mind this one. It’s a Feeling was interesting and a little odd, but mostly a positive listen. And I didn’t love the soft funky feel of Waiting for Your Love. It just didn’t seem right. Afraid of Love and Lovers in the Night were both pretty sweet rockers and surprise highlights.

I don’t know that I loved it enough to listen to the whole thing again any time soon, but I might come back to the highlights. And check out Toto’s other stuff. 3.2/5

From my friends:

“This is a solid album. I mean really solid. I loved it from start to finish…in fact I was surprised when it ended that it was already over. It is really too bad that this album was the pinnacle of their career; I don’t think any of their other albums even come close to this one, which makes me wonder why this one was different. Well deserving of the four stars from me, and almost a five star, but something unnameable held it back.” 4/5 – Tim

They Might Be Giants – Here Comes Science (2009)

I took my two-year-old camping last weekend, which means I loaded up our iPod with music and videos to keep her entertained. And some of it I hadn’t heard in a while, including this, and I forgot how much I liked it.

It’s They Might Be Giants doing educational-ish children’s music. What else do I have to say?

Here’s what my friends had to say about it:

“I’ve never gotten into TMBG, but they seem so goofy that I feel like I should like them. But for some reason, their music doesn’t impress me much as as the Aquabats, so the silliness isn’t as appreciable to me. Still, this album was pretty cool, I liked how deeply they got into some scientific principles, so its something I feel like I could even learn from. Some of the tracks like Meet the Elements and Bloodmobile seemed smooth enough they felt childish, whereas I am a Paleontologist had a good enough beat it was fun and didn’t sound like kids music at the face of it. Electric Car for some reason was kind of a blend, starting childish, but soon the rhythm and melody proved pretty catchy. Why does the Sun Shine and the follow up song was probably my favorite part.

So overall, it reminded me pleasantly of Bill Nye the Science Guy music videos, but didn’t really win me over for TMBG. But I want to try some more albums of theirs, and I think I will come back to this one, if nothing more than the nerdy aspect.

I keep going back to listen to Electric Car. Its dang catchy! I think I will buy this album for the kids so that technically makes it a 5/5 🙂” – Spencer

“I have this love/hate relationship with They Might Be Giants. I enjoy the music, but sometimes it just gets to be too much, usually by the end of the album. I don’t know how else to say that.

However, I really liked this album. The music was good, and the lyrics were spot-on. You have to be really smart to write songs about science and have them work…but that is something they really excel at in most of the their albums…the music is always a little cerebral.

So this one gets 4 stars from me, because I imagine it was incredibly challenging to complete, and the quality didn’t falter in doing so. And the flow of songs is just so well put together. Much higher rating than I thought I would give it.” 4/5 – Tim

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4 thoughts on “It’s Just the Soul that Matters

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