Birdy – Fire Within

December 7, 2013 at 6:22 PM | Posted in Birdy | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Birdy – Fire Within

1. Wings
2. Heart Of Gold
3. Light Me Up
4. Words As A Weapon
5. All You Never Say
6. Strange Birds
7. Maybe
8. No Angel
9. All About You
10. Standing In The Way Of Light
11. Shine

♦ ♦ ♦

Fire Within is the second album by British singer-songwriter Birdy, released on September 16, 2013. It is her first album with all original compositions. The album peaked at #8 on the UK charts.

From the moment I first heard Wings, I fell in love with it and I knew this would become one of the best songs of 2013. It’s not the typical Birdy song with more pop/rock elements and a clear Coldplay / Snow Patrol flavor, but this suits her so well. It’s the standout track on the album, may that be very well clear. I love this to bits ❤

The rest of the album follows a slightly more laid back pattern, but Heart Of Gold shows that it isn’t a problem. This song is perfect for making me realize that Birdy has stronger vocals than I initially thought, vulnerable and yet strong against an arrangement consisting of piano, strings and percussion. It even has some power ballad influences giving it an extra kick.

Light Me Up is just like Wings, the only exception to the overruling ballad style. This song is slightly 80s inspired, but if you should describe it in modern music terms, then it would be Florence + The Machine. I like how Birdy has the right amount of energy for an uplifting song like this one, making it very appealing and catchy.

The music for Words As Weapons reminded me so much of a combination of the Twilight soundtrack and ‘Home’  by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, combining guitar chords, piano notes and strings with an airy and mysterious ambience. The lyrics are beautiful and deep, with Birdy’s vocals really getting into the essence of it all. It’s all very small, but still it’s effective and breathtaking.

All You Never Say keeps it light with just a piano and soft percussion and a much less mysterious undertone than Words As Weapons had. The focus is on the lyrics, with Birdy singing about someone who is obviously not opening up about something. Not everyone can deliver lyrical content well, but Birdy is one of the first to capture me and draw my attention to what she is singing. Lovely!

Opening with a piano melody, Strange Birds later introduces some low strings that make the song already a bit haunting. Then the percussion drops in and some amazing chanting by Birdy, and the song really takes flight (pun intended). I have already listened to this song a couple of times because I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It’s short, but one of the most memorable tracks on the album.

After some laid back and/or mysterious tracks, we enter the second half of the album with a more uplifting guitar song. Maybe could come off as a filler track to some, but if you ask me this perfectly creates a balance between all the other tracks. It’s light and breezy, with Birdy’s vocals layered softly over the guitar chords. I can’t imagine the album without this track.

No Angel is the second single of the album, but it is less popular than Wings obviously. Still this poppy piano ballad has its own charm, putting the focus on the lyrics and Birdy’s voice. The lyrics speak about being broken, and Birdy’s voice is perfect for emphasizing all kinds of emotion in lyrics. I wouldn’t have picked this as the second single if I were her, but on the album it works perfectly.

From a piano-influenced ballad to a midtempo track with guitar chords: next we have All About You. This song was leaked before the album was released and it received mixed reviews, but this simple track is another charming gem on the album. The chanting in the background, echoing softly, makes the song even a little catchier and more memorable. I really liked it!

Standing In The Way Of The Light bears some similarities to Wings, which makes me love it so much. The same mysterious piano melodies are present and Birdy sings in her crisp clear head voice again in the chorus. This song starts off small but then it becomes much bigger, finally bringing in some energy again. The song progresses climactically, something I missed in some other tracks (that were still beautiful in their own way).

Closing the album, Shine is the last piano ballad with some amazing harmonizations when it comes to the vocals. Those same vocals are again the centerpoint of the song, showing off how good Birdy is at using both her head voice and chest voice. In the bridge she belts out her lyrics one more time, closing the album while leaving me stunned.

I was never ver much impressed by Birdy, not by Skinny Love and definitely not by People Help The People. I thought her voice lacked training, but everything changd when Wings came about. I saw the video on MTV and it got me glued to my TV, afterwards I played the song on repeat for an hour long. I decided to download her album and I’m so glad I did, because she proved herself to me for once and for all. Normally an album consisting of mostly ballads are quite boring, but Birdy has some kind of power that still draws me towards her music. Her music has depth, beautiful lyrics and her vocals have improved in the past two years. This girl is only 17 and already she has released one of the best albums of 2013. Cheers to that!

Favorite track: Wings | Heart Of Gold | Light Me Up | Strange Birds | Maybe | Standing In The Way Of The Light | Shine

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarstar
5 stars

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Britney Spears – Britney Jean

December 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM | Posted in Britney Spears | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Britney Spears – Britney Jean

1. Alien
2. Work Bitch
3. Perfume
4. It Should Be Easy (feat. will.i.am)
5. Tik Tik Boom (feat. T.I.)
6. Body Ache
7. ‘Til It’s Gone
8. Passenger
9. Chillin’ With You (feat. Jamie Lynn)
10. Don’t Cry

♦ ♦ ♦

Britney Jean is the eighth studio album by American singer Britney Spears, released on November 29, 2013.

Alien is a very appealing midtempo dance/pop track, perfect to open the album because it’s somehow similar to the track ‘Criminal’ on her previous album. Lately Britney has been known for her heavier dance tracks, so to have a rather light and airy one opening the album works amazingly well. I have to admit I’m a bit suspicious about the vocals (they sound heavily altered) but still this is a very nice track.

Moving on to the real club banger, Work Bitch. This is my gym anthem, really, this is some motivation right here. The lyrics are almost all spoken instead of sung and there’s not depth at all in this, but the EDM style this track has really kicks some serious ass. This works very well in a club after midnight.

Perfume then is finally one of the personal tracks Brit must have spoken about when promoting the album. I love her deep vocals here, they don’t sound altered at all! I think I’ve been waiting for something like this for years. The music is very pretty as well, combining soft synths with strings and piano. This could easily be one of her best simple tracks ever, this even slays ‘Everytime’.

It Should Be Easy (feat. will.i.am) has that obvious will.i.am sound, and although the guy irritates the hell out of me he does have an ear for good music. The pumping dance beats and synths are quite catchy and I can imagine this being one of the favorite tracks for some of Brit’s fans. To me it’s an okay track, and besides, will.i.am completely takes over so this is hardly a Britney song.

I actually find Tik Tik Boom (feat. T.I.) very appealing since it combines pop/dance music with hiphop beats, and I’m kind of a sucker for that. It took Britney quite some time on this album before finally sing her usual ‘talk dirty to me’ kind of lyrics, but here they are. T.I. fits perfectly in this track, adding his personal touch to it perfectly.

Body Ache is Work Bitch with more singing in it, but the emptiness is something both songs share. Being a club banger song with another synth breakdown and lyrics about dancing all night, this is not something I personally crave for. But hey, it’s Britney Spears, when has she ever put her heart into something. There wasn’t even a real heavy highlight in this track.

‘Til It’s Gone is bound to be the eargasm for club-goers everywhere and Brit’s fans. It has a clear EDM-inspired theme again, but this time the lyrics dig a little deeper despite the rough musical arrangement. Overall, this is finally a catchy Britney song that takes the musical style she has had for the past years to a new level.

This time she really surprised me. Passenger was co-written by Katy Perry so that already caught my attention, but Britney’s own vocals are top notch here as well. She doesn’t have a very good vocal range, but she just displayed the best vocals in her entire career. Lyrically, she did a great job opening up and showing her vulnerable side. Recommended!

The long awaited duet with her little sister. Chillin’ With You (feat. Jamie Lynn) is a laid back pop/dance track with some hiphop and dubstep influences. It’s nice to hear the two sisters sing together, but Britney sounds like a dying chipmunk and Jamie Lynn is the real star in this one. The song itsself is pretty awkward and out of place on the album, it could’ve been more because this really has potential.

Don’t Cry finally shows Britney baring her soul and talking about her break-up with Jason Trawick. It’s a ballad with some minor synth accents, giving Britney the chance to get into the track and show her more vulnerable and emotional side. She succeeded very well in that, also in keeping me wondering about what she’s going to be doing next after this mysterious track closes the album.

So it has been a litte under two years since Femme Fatale (2011), the album that totally caught me off guard. It made me change my mind about Brit and her music, so I decided to give her another chance. Now she has released Britney Jean, which should’ve been her most personal record yet. Did she succeed? No, not even close. The only tracks that sounded a little more personal were Perfume, Passenger and Don’t Cry, other tracks were heavy on the ‘I wanna dance all night’ kind of vibe. Does that mean I hate the album? No, it means that I’m less impressed than I had hoped I would be, especially after her previous two albums. It seems as if Britney Spears strays away from her music more and more, focusing only on dropping some good club bangers and not on releasing genuine music. Compared to music critics, I’ve been mild.

Favorite tracks: Alien | Work Bitch | Perfume | Tik Tik Boom (feat. T.I.) | Passenger

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarblankstarblankstar
3 stars

SHINee – 3 2 1

December 7, 2013 at 10:51 AM | Posted in SHINee | 1 Comment

SINGLE REVIEW
SHINee – 3 2 1

1. 3 2 1
2. Everybody [Japanese ver.]
3. Colors of the season
4. 3 2 1 [Instrumental]
5. Everybody [Instrumental]
6. Colors of the season [Instrumental]

3 2 1 is the ninth Japanese single by South Korean boy group SHINee, released on December 3, 2013. The title tracks was used as the theme song for the tv drama Tokyo Toybox. The single debuted at #3 on the Oricon Charts.

3 2 1 suprised me by being an uplifting pop/rock song instead of their usual R&B or dance inspired style. It’s a fun and catchy song, and although it doesn’t stray too far from what they usually do this song is actually very original. The boys deliver great vocal performances, every single one of them contributes very well. It’s not a complicated track, just plain fun and another great effort from the group.

Ofcourse they had to make a Japanese version for Everybody, I saw that one coming. Nonetheless, I think this is one of the tracks that kicks ass the most in their entire discography because of the heavy dubstep influence in the chorus. The fact that this song is very well produced is a well known fact by now, I like that little robotic effect. Onew and Jonghyun know how to take their moment to shine.

To balance everything, Colors of the season is a soft ballad that first follows a very classical approach before it starts to sound more like a pop power ballad. It’s beautiful and quite emotional, so this track is perfect for Onew, who obviously takes the lead. This is bound to take your breath away, so give it a listen and you’ll see why there’s not much to say about this track. This one’s more about feeling it.

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

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