Release Date: 06.10.03
Record label: Sony
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
No Longer Vexed. Just Glorious.
by: matt cibula
Tracks from this album have been floating around for two years, during which time everyone I know who heard them said "Damn that stuff is great, when's it coming out?" and nobody knew, so everyone just kinda said "Oh well" and stopped thinking about it. Well, the record's out now and it's just damned fine and perfect techno/prog/new-wave/hip-hop/pop and I love it a bunch but probably for the wrong reasons.
Reason #1: The production is the best you're going to hear all year. Chad Hugo (you know, the other guy in the Neptunes) made this record sound so creamy and creepy and buzzy and squally and floaty that you won't believe it even when you're hearing it, and especially when it's all on the same song like on "Vexed and Glorious" or "Man Fading." Hugo manages to create a unified whole out of songs that sound like the Cars ("Freetime") and songs that sound like Prince ("I'm Gone") and songs that sound like nothing I can think of ("Red Man," "Siren"). Just sickeningly luscious, but with an edge. He's Trevor Horn with street smarts, he is.
Reason #2: Kenna is a very effective singer. I like his voice, especially because it's NOT some big overtutored weapon but rather just the way he communicates his feelings. He sings "Let's start a revolution / A true revolution" (on "Man Fading") in a way that combines the burning fervor of a young man in the city for the first time and that guy's fear and tension; plus, it's sexy as hell. And, as hip as he sounds on the uptempo stuff, nothing can prepare you for the full-on emotional onslaught of the very Seal-like "War in Me." He even uses some of his Ethiopian background in the lovely "Yeneh Ababa (Rose)," but only when he needs to, in the wordless bridge to the chorus. Putting a singer this good up with music that's this tight…someone oughta win an award for this.
I should dock more than just a half-star for the lyrics here, which often eat it in a large way, but I'll leave it right there. Dude lost me on "Freetime" with "I need some me time / I need to run away run away run away / Get away", which is just crap on a stick poetically speaking. But then he'll pull off some great stuff about all the space between Pluto and God, or about whatever the hell he's talking about on "Hell Bent" which I really don't care about because the reggaefied beat is SO DOPE and Kenna's voice is SO REAL and it's all too beautiful.
I hope whoever's idea it was to keep this one on the shelf for two years is thrown to slavering lemurs. Unless of course it's Hugo or Kenna, in which case they've made one of the great albums you will hear this year. 30-Jun-2003 10:37 AM