Darren's Review Round-Up
October Review Round-Up
So sometimes Darren is unable to write a lengthy review of every album he acquires in a month, either due to getting the album too late, not listening to it enough, or general music overload. These are the albums that slipped through the cracks in the last month, with reviews in a more abbreviated, albeit still douchey and pretentious, form.

Matt & Kim - Lightning

Bottom Line: Catchy yet extremely repetitive.

Like many listeners, I got into Matt & Kim with their excessively peppy hit "Daylight," which lead to me downloading their sophomore release Grand. Basically this album combined catchy keyboard melodies, excessively happy vocals, and steady yet good drum beats. Now in October 2012 we have Lightning, which combines catchy keyboard melodies, excessively happy vocals, and steady yet good drum beats. Yes, Matt & Kim are formulaic, yet they are really good at this formula. Many of the tracks on Lightning are as catchy as a synth melody can be, my favorite being "It's Alright," and they incorporate many more electronic influences than they did on Grand. However, as catchy as many of the songs are, they do tend to be repetitive. For example, "Now" and "I Said" (and even my liked track "It's Alright") feature Matt more or less saying the song's title over and over for the chorus. There are some more distinctive tracks, like "Let's Go," "Overexposed," and "Much Too Late," yet as a whole the album's tracks sound fairly similar and hard to distinguish. The Matt & Kim ultra-happiness isn't bad, but not taken it small doses it can be overwhelming.

Grade: B

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

Bottom Line: As dark and gloomy as ever, yet has some (lengthy) weak spots

After a 10 year hiatus, Godspeed You! Black Emperor are back on the scene as the same politically-charged orchestra, again making songs ripe for an apocalyptic scenes. Like all of their albums, they don't exactly do "short" tracks and instead opt for long drawn-out pieces with several different movements. Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! only has four tracks, two short and two long, yet clocks in at just about an hour. Opening track "Mladic" is a real 20 minute tour de force, and is probably the best song named after a Bosnian Serb war criminal I've ever heard. Starting out with the album's only vocal sample, it begins with what sounds like an angry flock of birds, builds into probably the heaviest rock sound the group has ever done, and then goes into a more Middle Eastern part before ending with a melody that can only be described as sounding very "Godspeed-esque." The second longer track "We Drift Like Worried Fire," is less doom and gloom, and in parts sounds like something Sigur Ros would have done. However, towards the end it resumes the tension and crescendos more associated with Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The album's main faults come with the two shorter tracks, which just more or less drone for several minutes, never really building to anything. Still, both longer tracks are great, and even if I am disappointed that they apparently are eschewing vocal samples like they did with Yanqui U.X.O., I'm not disappointed in the album.

Grade: B+

Paul Banks - Banks

Bottom Line: Paul Banks' second solo effort doesn't stray too far from Interpol

For most Interpol fans, Paul Banks is mostly known for his distinctive deep voice that occasionally evokes Ian Curtis. They may also know him for his cryptic lyrics (that sometimes are painfully clumsy) and his not-too-shabby guitarwork. These tools gave him the ambition to do a solo album under the moniker Julian Plenti in 2009, which managed to distinguish itself from Interpol's sound with the occasional synthesizer part and ended up being pretty enjoyable. Three years later Paul Banks released another solo album under his real name, which sounds more like an Interpol album and features many tracks that could easily have been put on the band's albums. "Young Again" and "Paid for That" particularly stick out as tracks that aren't bad, but sound exactly like tracks on Interpol's fourth self-titled album. Oddly enough, the albums strong points come during its lighter parts, such as the instrumental track "Lisbon" and closer "Summertime is Coming." In between are the songs that definitely aren't Interpol but aren't great Paul Banks either, such as "Another Chance," ruined by its overuse of a vocal sample, and the flat "Young Again." Banks has shown before that he can do a good solo album, but like Interpol, there will be some hits and some misses, particularly if he stays close to his main band's sound.

Grade: B

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