Review score: 73%
Review Date: July 2013
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
I’ve known Kidneythieves for a very long time. ‘Deux Ex 2: Invisible War’ was one of the first games I actually finished (and am replaying at the moment, which is why I’m listening to Kidneythieves again). Most people didn’t like the game (apparently it doesn’t measure up to the first game), but I think there was one thing that made this game a lot better than the first: the music of the in-game pop star ‘N G Resonance’. What’s this got to do with Kidneythieves? Well, all her music was created by Kidneythieves, for one thing. Resonance seems to be the only musician in the world (but that’s okay, because it’s good music), so her music is everywhere. One of the best moments is walking into a nightclub, right at the start of the game, and hearing Taxicab Messiah. (This led to a long debate about whether the chorus was ‘My God is weird’ or ‘My God is scared’. It turned out to be both).
Moving along, the next time I ran into them was in the soundtrack of Queen of the Damned. Their track, ‘Before I’m Dead’ is a lot more industrial than much of their older stuff, with heavier guitars. Trypt0fanatic is a lot more like that track (as is the Invisible Plan EP) the music is more industrial, but with the computer backing and vocals that make them stand out as Kidneythieves songs.
When the band broke up, I wasn’t too depressed (they’d been broken up for a long time when I got around to looking into their music). Then one day I discovered they were back together. Not only reformed, but they had already made one new album… this one (I know, I should actually pay attention to what’s going on with the bands I like).
So, that’s enough about my life story. You’re here for the album.
In an interview (that happens to be on Youtube), Free Dominguez (The singer, if you didn’t know) explains that the story of this album is ‘Wake up, combine the dream with the real life’. (I recommend looking up this video, because it includes an acoustic version of Jude (Be Somebody) which proves that she’s an incredibly talented singer and doesn’t need to be auto-tuned like most pop stars).
Before I talk about their songs, I have to say, I find their lyrics particularly difficult to decipher. It’s not that she doesn’t sing clearly (except for that one time on Taxicab Messiah) it’s just that they’re not always straightforward, so working them out would take a lot of time I don’t have.
What, I have to pick out some tracks now? But I want to pick them all!
Jude (Be Somebody)
This is one song where the lyrics are pretty clear. It’s about telling people to stop complaining and do something to make it better. The intro is pretty similar to that of Taxicab Messiah. Quite a bit of it is keyboard generated, until it gets going. It’s a lot more like a rock song on the chorus. It’s the perfect example of her singing style, with her singing multiple parts at once. Even though one on them is singing through a computer filter, it isn’t cheating because she really can sing. It really sounds like she’s singing her heart out and putting some feeling into it. It’s a track that sets the mood for the album perfectly.
Beg is a lot like some of their Trickster tracks. It’s lighter, with only occasional guitars, and more keyboard. The guitar’s there, but it’s on and off through the song. Her vocal style includes some things that she doesn’t do in any of the other tracks since Trickster, which makes a nice change and is very reminiscent of those old ones. If you were into their lighter stuff in the past, this is a song for you (especially if you liked the ones on Deux Ex 2).
This one is quicker and with a better beat. There’s clear guitar and drums along with the industrial beat that makes it a song that jumps out at you. It’s meant to be sung along to. There are at least two Dominguez-s in the chorus, which is pretty much telling you to join in. When other people are getting you down, this is the song for you. Self acceptance and forgetting the people who are getting you down is the theme here.
Also, nope, not a typo. It seems that things on this album were named just to make them difficult to spell.
A nice change of pace here. It’s a more ambient intro, with light guitar and keyboard work. It makes her vocals really clear as she describes a dream, and fits the theme really well. It gets louder for the chorus, but keeps the plodding pace from the intro. I’m not sure how velveteen fits in with the theme of strange dreams (something about being fake?). I’m going to have to stare at the lyrics and get back to you there.
Dead Girl Walking
After Velveteen, it’s back to a heavy track. You’re launched straight into the lyrics. It’s a very wordy song that’ll keep you listening closely. The song may be slightly haunted with a creepy tune and those haunted children’s music box sounds that usually go in horror movies. The singing is sad and hollow. It couples with the fast electric beat to make an odd tune. It’s actually a lot more beautiful now that I’m listening to it closely, rather than just letting the album play through.
Gah, I seem to have only picked tracks from the first half of the album, but the second half is good too. I think I’m going to have to leave you to listen to those ones.
With this album, I have to say that Kidneythieves are back, and they’re still awesome. Shame I’m a bit late for that to be a revelation (several years late). It’s heavier than some of their old stuff, but I think that’s a good thing. There are no strange tracks (like ‘Take a Train’ from Zerospace, which takes a lot of work to get into). If you like one track off this album, then you’re sure to like the rest.
I can also say that it’s nice to listen to them in the early morning. There’s a strange balance between heavy and chilled out, making it lovely to listen to when I’m still half asleep.
Track List (may vary)
- Jude (Be Somebody)
- Freeky People
- Dead Girl Walking
- Size of Always
- Comets + Violins
- Lick U Clean
- Dark Horse
- Tears On A Page