Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Trying not to be Disappointed

This isn't a food or ED related post.

Instead, it's about music I love. Or, more accurately, music I WANT very badly to love, but just can't.

My taste in music is both pretty varied, and pretty… non expansive. It’s varied because I like a variety of genres and songs from a lot of different artists. But in general, I tend to stick to a few “favourite” bands. I don’t listen to the radio or watch much, if any, music television. So, when I’m on the prowl for new music, my first stop is always to see if my favourite bands have announced a new album yet. If not, I find myself hanging and bored and a little sad. I ask people for music suggestions, but generally speaking, they never hit that nerve, y’know?

This year has been a good year for music – for me, I mean. Many of my favourite artists and bands have released new albums this year. Marilyn Manson (a good album although some of the tracks are pretty "samey"). Placebo (not quite as good as Meds was, but that's a damn hard album to follow up. It's still probably their second-best album, which is a feat considering that they lost an integral member of the band since the last album). Green Day (a perfect follow-up to American Idiot). Billy Talent (more to come). Muse has one out this fall, and AFI and 30 Seconds To Mars have announced that they’re currently working on their next albums, to be released this year or 2010.

But, I find myself struggling not to be disappointed. It’s a certain kind of loyalty that makes you want to TRY to like something. But the truth is, I’m not sure that I do.

In this case, I’m talking about Billy Talent. They’re a Canadian-Based ska-punk-alternative-what-the-fuck-ever band, and their first two albums were amazing. I could happily put those two albums on a playlist alone on shuffle repeat, listen to it for days at a time and not get bored. So when I heard Billy Talent III was out this summer, I leapt to preorder it excitedly.

I picked it up from my grandparents’ house this weekend, and finally ripped the tracks onto my ipod this weekend. I listened to it for the first time yesterday, and from the first chord, my heart sank.

Billy Talent has a certain “sound”. And that sound is, admittedly, up-tempo squealiness, with a very distinct guitar sound. It's a sound you either love or completely detest. And that’s what I love about them. The first album was amazing. The second album could have easily been a continuation of the first, or tracks that wouldn’t fit on their first release but which were written at the same time – they have the same sound, the same style, the same FEEL. And I love them both dearly. And largely the Canadian general public agrees - they're very popular back in my homeland.

The third album was, however, made to “appeal to the American market.”

Had I known that before I bought the CD, it would have made me wary. Now, after having listened to it, I’m saddened. Apparently appealing to the American music market means changing everything and becoming an entirely new band. A band should be what a band is, and should not alter themselves to try to suit a target market. Some bands grow and progress and as a result their sound changes (early AFI was very much shouty punk music, but the songs on their last two albums are entirely different, but still amazing. In fact, I prefer them). But Billy Talent have deeply disappointed their fans this time around – and indeed, they’ve turned their backs on those of us who LIKE their signature sound.

The new album is toned down by a lot. There are only a couple subtle inklings of the strong, unique guitar sound that their first two albums are known for. The voice is less squealy – but also less powerful. It feels like the lead singer is trying to be something he’s not (which I believe he is) and the toned-down songs and the reigned-in vocals just don’t suit. It doesn’t feel right. Even had I not been a Billy Talent before, had this been their first album release, that voice does not suit that kind of music. It’s less punk-ska-alt-whatever and more generic-rock-with-pop-influences.

It just feels… wrong. In a way I can’t even describe.

I don't know how else to articulate this, but it feels like they're trying to take themselves more seriously as a rock band - when it's entirely unnecessary and the punk-alt-etc band they were before was much loved and filled a niche very nicely. I want my ADHD sugar-high strong guitar, squealy-voiced band back =[


Hanz said...

I'm very like you with music. My favourite band for 6 or so years has been Good Charlotte (even if most people think they're shit) but it started out that they scorned the american famous dream type thing, and now they're completely engrossed in it and their music has suffered as a result.
The Killers did it too - they started out not taking themselves seriously and the music was good. They realised they were good, took themselves too seriously and came back with these epic tracks that were just trying too hard to sound mature, which is not what people loved them for.
Music is forever a disappointment when the musician is discovered, or makes it big so to speak.

Anonymous said...

im glad you read the green tea post. thats awesome :) yes one cup a day will do wonders but too much of a good thing is a bad thing! mind if i follow? weee

Vee said...

That's the problem, I guess. Bands are real when they're rough. But, if you like them, you want them to get popular, and you celebrate when they finally gain the recognition they deserve... then they get it, take themselves too seriously, and take it out on their music. I guess they try too hard to maintain their popularity / become more popular, and maybe that's where it all goes wrong. It's depressing, though.

@xthinforever =] Yay of course I don't mind! I'll have to cut back to one a day then, I don't want to wind up doing more harm than good