Mars Electric - Beautiful Something
Columbia / C2 / Portrait
"Beautiful Something" is like a weird case study in modern radio pop. The
album consists of twelve fairly slow pop-rock tunes in basic
verse/chorus/verse/chorus format, with the occasional string arrangement and
big guitar lick, all tied up in flawless studio production. One of these
songs at a time, through the radio, might be alright background music while
driving; but sitting in my room and listening to the entire thing just kept
reminding me I could be listening to something better.
The best word to describe Mars Electric's lyrics would be "unobjectionable".
As long as you're not listening too closely, there's no problem- and that
will probably be the case for most of the people who hear these songs on the
radio. Part of the problem is that the lyrics are just completely
replaceable. Take, for example, this sample from the opening track
"Someday, whatever happened something must have changed
Someday, crumbling world took it all away"
Now replace it with, say, a common dinner recipe-
"Simmer, add onions heat at 350 for an hour
Remove, serves five to six hungry adults"
Either way, you have about the same emotional impact. While the lyrics
don't detract from the music, they certainly don't add anything, either.
Vocally, singer Jacob Bunton's voice is good, but not interesting. Like how
J. Robbin's voice is good, but Tricky's voice is interesting.
As a side note, the press release and layout do a good job of embarrassing
this band. The release compares their sound to Matchbox 20 and Collective
Soul (no kidding) and name drops the same two in reference to their
engineer. The booklet includes scads of pictures of them wearing the most
ridiculously fashionable (think vinyl- lots of it) clothes, their hair
perfectly arranged, their faces caught in various expressions of sweetness
The biggest problem with this album is it doesn't take any chances.
Everything is done to be vaguely likeable but never obtuse or questionable.
I don't want to give this a "bad" review because there's nothing really
"wrong" with it. But I can easily think of dozens of bands who produce more
innovative and interesting pop music on their worst days, and telling you
this album is worth spending your money on would be just the same as giving
those bands a bad review- and I can't do that.
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