Approaching Normal by Blue October
Of all the angry, guyliner-covered, emotionally overloaded bands out and about today, Blue October is probably the best there is when it comes to making true emo music. The band had the biggest hit of 2006 with “Hate Me,” and they’ve been progressing musically ever since. Their fifth album, Approaching Normal, is enthralling from the first note, and covers every energy tempo in modern rock music today.
The record opens with the track “Weight Of The World,” in which vocalist Justin Furstenfeld indeed sounds like he’s carrying the weight of the world - he drifts between a whispering melody and a vehement shout into the microphone, during the chorus. It sets a fierce and captivating tone for the rest of the coming album.
“Say It,” the next track, starts out on a slower note, but builds up to a signature Blue October, catchy chorus, with driving guitars and intense vocals. “Dirt Room” has a similar heavy pace, that makes the change to the mellow ditty, “Been Down,” all the more effective. Furstenfeld’s voice is just as beguiling when it’s soft, compared to when he’s pouring his emotions out at full volume.
Following the slow songs, “Should Be Loved” is something of an anomaly because it’s a love song at it’s core, and the background music is soft and lilting, while the vocals are impassioned and driving. The contradicting emotions work well to carry the song.
“Kangaroo Cry” is a low point on the record, and fails to draw the attempted comparisons between a woman’s sad looks and a ‘Kangaroo Cry’... It’s best that you skip past it so as not to ruin the overall enjoyment of the rest of the good songs.
While being one of the most unexpected songs, “Jump Rope” is also one of the best on the record - the music beat matches the ‘up, down, up, down’ lyrics to make the listener feel like they’re swinging through the jump rope of life, themselves. The chorus of kids that start singing at the end of the song also make it fun and more believable that life really might be just like negotiating a jump rope.
The optimism of the music continues with “Blue Skies,” an incredibly catchy tune that has all the ingredients for a hit - I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t do fantastically well!
“Approaching Normal” turns out to have something for all modern rock lovers - there are heavy, hardcore moments, catchy piano hooks, emotional lyrics, and light-hearted tunes, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find something you don’t love about it.
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