I hear so much Kate Bush in this album. I hear quite a bit of Bowie. Even perhaps a bit of Cyndi Lauper? But the one I was initially searching for, Ms. Polly Jean Harvey, I couldn't find. Not the PJ Harvey that I've grown to know and love. But she's in there. Poured over this record, heart and soul, and saturated down to the marrow.
This is the follow-up to 'Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea' that I've been waiting for. 'Uh Huh Her' didn't really do much for me and 'White Chalk', even less. I was a bit fearful that the avant-garde PJ that I'd loved had moved on to a more safe and sedated place. This album, however, I've not been able to stay away from. I'm very cautious of trying to not burn myself out on music that I enjoy so I'll stop listening to it even when I feel I'm not finished with it, that way letting it be a pleasant surprise when it comes up on my shuffle. Every other day though I find myself queuing up this album in its entirety.
Happy Valentine's Day from the Bachelor Chicken-inspired Patty
I imagine there are only a handful of us, mostly male, that earnestly try their hardest to spend Valentine's Day, above all other days, avoiding the opposite sex. But for all of you lovers out there I'm going to share one of my favorite new songs. This is for you to make your love to.
Richard Ashcroft & The United Nations of Sound's 'United Nations of Sound' is going to see a proper US release On March 29th under the moniker of simply Richard Ashcroft. This, I believe, is a horrible idea and I'll tell you why:
The album is shit.
And I don't mean to say that with any malicious intent. I've tried to force Richard Ashcroft's solo work onto everyone I know who's got a heavy head. Most know him as the lead singer of the now thrice disbanded The Verve, but it's songs like 'I Get My Beat' 'XXYY' and 'Science of Silence' that he'd released as a soloist that placed him high among the numbers of my favorite artists.
There is very little of that man found in this latest project. Richard's song writing and backing vocals seem completely phoned in. The lyrics are rehashes of previous songs on prior albums. Songs that were done better the first time. And what the hell is with that awkward falsetto on 'Life Can Be So Beautiful'? Why did no one tell him it was a bad idea? Even still that turns out to be one of the catchier songs. Granting these set backs Richard's voice is just as good as it's always been. I don't fault him entirely for the shortcomings of this outing. Primarily I will blame that on the production done, surprisingly, by Chicago native and notable Hip Hop producer No I.D.. I remember No I.D. from back in the mid nineties when he was working with soon-to-be superstar COMMON and mentoring a young Kanye West. I haven't really followed his career much after that, because I was never really blown away by him but it seems he's kept busy. He's responsible for Jay Z's 'Death Of Auto-Tune'. So when I read that he'd worked on this album fond memories flooded back to mind. Those were soon followed by massive apprehensions about how this collaboration would turn out. All of those fears were confirmed once I got my hands on the album.
Every thing's played in really tight 4/4 arrangements. Metronomic high hats. Smooth ass bass lines. With a couple exceptions, tracks that would seem more fitting for rap verses or spoken word. I personally prefer the twangy slide guitar of his first album 'Alone With Everybody'. I used to say the Brits make Country music far better than us Yanks.
Not to say that this is all bad, but it's a departure and that's fine. My point is that it should be an off-shot side project as opposed to being included in the formal canon of Richard Ashcroft albums. He's made some truly exceptional music and at moments that potential peaks it's head out on The United Nations of Sound but either it's short lived (i.e. the ending of She Brings me the music when the song just starts to be worth the 3 minute investment right before it abruptly ends) or it's stifled by the ill fitting instrumentation.
4.5 out of 10
Standout songs on The United Nations of Sound are:
She Brings Me The Music
Life Can Be So Beautiful
I'll let you look those up on your own time. As for now I'll leave you with a few of the Richard Ashcroft songs that I've loved throughout the past decade.
Discretion is key in all gentlemanly endeavors. This may seem elementary but you'd be surprised how many break the first rule of the gentleman's code:
Don't talk about your conquests.
You don't go around talking about how much money you made last year or how much you dropped on your vacation. Talking about your successes in the bedroom is just as tacky. Even more so because in this case there are other parties involved.
The tight-lipped gentleman need not worry about his reputation. Speculation alone will have people jumping to conclusions. I'm not a ladies man in the least but I've heard my name tossed around with women whose hands I'd never even shaken. It is, of course, at that time that you set the record straight for posterity. But details; details never need be discussed.