[record reviews: let them eat cake]
Let Them Eat Cake
Review of Let Them Eat Cake taken from the
It's always interesting when a band decides to try a new musical route. Motorpsycho have certainly gone through their fair share of different styles over the year, but it's always been rooted in hard rock. This time, however, this Norwegian trio has gone all-out and produced nothing short of a semi-psychadelic pop album. Luckily these are guys who know what they're doing, so it's neither trite nor boring. No, it's quite the opposite: a remarkable pop-album, chock-full of wonderful, catchy songs.
There's a lot of traces of bands such as the Beatles, Beach Boys and The Who, but there's still a modern tinge to it, and it's still obviously Motorpsycho. They've cut down on the jamming and psychedelia and rather gone for tighter, more composed pieces than normal. This has resulted in a forty-five minute long album, which is quite a surprise after several double-CD releases. Another first for the band is the addition of a horn and string section that contributes a very lush feeling to many of the songs.
The band tries out several moods throughout the album; there's upbeat pop of the first single "The other fool", the acoustic beautiness of "Stained glass", and the funky "Walkin' with J", not to mention the spaced out, almost ambient closer, "30/30"/ The latter plays around with a quite disharmonic opening, giving the song a very tense feeling before it slowly turns into an almost Pink Floyd-ish ballad. All the songs are catchy, yet with enough finesse to make them survive repeated listens. All the songs are structured nicely, letting the music flow smoothly all the way. The songs are given a sense of direction and are able to control the listeners emotions, thus always pulling you into the music.
The guitars, played by Hans Magnus "Snah" Ryan, are more understated than on previous Motorpsycho albums, so you won't find any of the Sonic Youth-inspired guitar-noise-fests like in the past, nor any of the heavy riffing. The occational solos are very tasteful and perfectly executed. They're never really focused entirely upon, so they feel more like proper parts of the songs than solo-breaks. Bent Sæther's bass-playing is usually quite heavy, and played with the virtuosity of a prog or jazz musician, yet with the taste to hold back when needed. Drummer Håkon Gebhardt has no problem equalling his bandmates' talents. His playing is pretty soft most of the way through the album. He's not shy of trying out complicated thing, but he never gets show-offy with it, so you might not even realize it until you really pay attention to the drums. The only place he really comes forth and takes control of the music is the groovy Allman Brothers Band influenced "Whip that ghost".
The guys in the band all share on the vocals, which are all cleanly sung. None of them ever really go for it and SING, but rather use a light talk-singy voice. It gives the album a bit of a personal vibe, which fits the songs perfectly. I'm glad to say that their voices have improved greatly since their rather rusty-sounding vocals of the past, since they could've ruined the beauty of this album. The production is stellar all the way through, giving all the instruments a very ear-pleasing sound, and never burying anything in the mix. There's also a lot of Beatles and Pink Floyd-esque little production-tricks scattered around on the album, to give it that extra touch.
I've tried to think of some weak spots on this album, but I can't seem to find any. Naturally, with the whole retro-theme it might seem a tad regressive, but it's so perfectly executed that I can't fault them for that. This is definitely a strong contender for album of the year, and it might very well be my favorite album by the band. It's certainly their most consistent.