1.) Hang-Ups: Goldfinger
2.) It’s Not Me, It’s You: Lily Allen
3.) 10,000 Days: Tool
4.) London Calling: The Clash
So, the famous London Calling. I was expecting a punk record but London Calling is way more Ska/Reggae than I ever would have guessed with plenty of brass sections thrown in for good measure.
Unfortunately Ska/Reggae has never been my thing and I find this album mediocre throughout. Sure, there’s the odd half-decent track scattered throughout this double LP but all in all I cannot fathom how this album is held in such high regard by critics and music fans alike. Spectacularly devoid of brilliance if you ask me – 4th.
I was a bit rude about Lily Allen’s debut Alrite Still back in group 83 calling it mainly ‘adolescent blabbering’. However, It’s Not Me, It’s You is bigger production wise and better musically. In fact it’s an impressive step up the quality scale and much more commercial than its predecessor.
The first four elctro-pop songs have a beautiful airy feel and are overwhelmingly the strongest stuff here as Lily slides away from her earlier Alrite Still loose ska/reggae/ ‘pseudo rap’ style.
That said the backing tracks are still mainly composed of quaint ska accompaniment with Not Fair sounding like it’s being instrumentally backed by a redneck square-dance troupe. Move towards the middle section and you find the delightful track Fuck You with its country twang and that contrast of Lily’s delicate voice delivering a rambunctious sentiment against extremism.
Her lyrical poetry remains intact as she declares on Fear “I am a weapon of massive consumption, it’s not my fault, it’s how I’m programmed to function”.
There is an interesting connection with group rivals The Clash beyond her musical style too as Lily’s dad apparently used to knock about with Joe Strummer.
Tool have a rythm section that creeps and creeps like a hungry spider patrolling the outskirts of its web. 10,000 days, their fourth studio album, is made up of atmospheric ‘building’ songs. This is a full-on progressive metal album constituting a complete body of work instead of separate songs.
Driven by the powerful drumming of Danny Carey the album lures you in, deceptively feeding you slow subtle passages of music before periodically delivering some heavy, heavy Metallica-esque doom speed metal.
It starts ever so well with the thundering riff of Vicarious, moves you through some interesting prog metal and halfway through delivers up The Pot, which has the funkiest metal riff this side of a Red Hot Chili Peppers album. It’s fair to say that Tool are by far the best musicians this group has to offer. Unfortunately let down by some slow ambient moments the albums wanes a little and what’s with the pointless end track Viginti Tres?
As a band, Goldfinger were used in just about every teen movie of the late 90’s it seems, including the legendary comedy Amercian Pie.
In contrast to Tool who build and build for several minutes before delivering any semblance of meldody, Goldfinger just cannot wait to hit you with the chorus.
It’s really hard not to like these guys when they deliver this particular brand of good time music with a hard edge.
There’s plenty to diversify them from their contemporarys (Sum 41 , Blink 182 even Gin Blossoms), most notable through the constant use of brass sections, provided by several members of the Orange County ska scene, which enhances and colourizes their sound.
It’s Not Me, It’s Tool
At times Goldfinger sound like a heavy metal band tryin to escape: If Only, the middle eight of Too Late and of course the 1 minute metal ‘rock out’ SMP.
I feel that some of the more angsty moments are contrived and hard to swallow though. Come on guys, you ain’t Axl Rose or Marilyn Manson, you don’t need to shout ‘fuck you’ – it doesn’t suit your sound.
And that sound does get messy at times in a whirlwind of thrashy ‘speed punk’. Messy it may be but Hang Ups is the best album in this group – 1st place.
It was between Lily and Tool for 2nd place. It’s Not Me, It’s You starts really well but tends to drift towards mediocracy towards the end. 10,000 days meanwhile loses it’s way in multiple places and has too many stop/start moments and in the shake-up Lily snatches 2nd place on the strength of some of those excellent elctro-pop tracks.