I'm going to start by posting a short review of a few albums by That Handsome Devil.
Part 1 of the reviews will contain the following albums: That Handsome Devil EP (2006)
Part 2 will cover their first full album, A City Dressed In Dynamite (2008).
Part 3 will contain a review of Enlightenment's For Suckers EP (2009) and The Heart Goes To Heaven, The Head Goes To Hell (2011).
That Handsome Devil
Godforbid invites you to take a trip with him.
- Standing Room In Heaven
- Yada Yada
- Sleep It Off
- Elephant Bones
- Dating Tips
- Miss America
- James Dean
The album starts off with a very somber sound. The slow, rhythmic upright bass almost lulls you into a trance as the guitar and drums are used intermittently until the vocals kick in. Instantly, you're transported to a dingy bar where the live act is capturing the mood of the room. This song is how THD establishes their big band influence ever so slightly. The tempo fluctuates gradually from slow to an almost moderate pace, while almost never breaking that trance it establishes early. During each of the slower portions of the song, you can still find that hypnotic bass riff droning in the background, providing a base for the rest of the melody to be built upon. In what will become true THD fashion, they end the song with an audio clip that has some slight relation to the song, this time being a phone operator answering a call to heaven.
Immediately you're presented with an upbeat drum beat that welcomes you to Yada Yada. From here, you can definitely hear some of Godforbid's, the lead singer, unique vocal stylings in the way he slides from note to note. The Big Band influence is still here as you hear horns in the background during the verse. The chorus kicks up the energy another notch as the guitars pick up. Honestly, I can't figure out a proper interpretation for this track. It's a short track that's a lot of fun rhythmically though.
The energy keeps up as the scat styled intro of Sleep It Off rolls in. The trumpets provide accents ever few lines, but the really interesting part comes when the strings pick up in the chorus. During this time, violins provide a contrast to the upbeat sounds the verses provide. Also, the verses seem to hide some kazoos... so there's that. It's funny to me how upbeat they make a song about someone drowning their sorrows in alcohol. The way I hear the song is that someone gets near-blackout drunk trying to forget something that had happened.
Then we break into the Surf Rock inspired Elephant Bones, which most people will know from Guitar Hero 2. The verse of the song is very chilled and relaxing with the sparse guitar and it's warbly tone. The simple bass line is the driving force of the non-lyrical sounds during the verses. Then when the chorus rolls around, we're met with a more distorted version of the beach themed guitar tones. The song wraps up with a sound clip that would be at home in a 1950's commercial or talk show. This is the first time they use such a clip to close out their tracks.
Speaking of Talk Shows, Dating Tips starts off like a fanfare from a talk show. Then it rolls into a lackidasical beat that Godforbid raps slowly over. Simply put, Dating Tips is all about relationship advice. The validity of the track's advice is up to to interpretation, so use your own discretion. This is a song that simply has to be heard to believed.
The tone shifts back to melancholic as Miss America starts, almost as if to cause a mood whiplash. The keyboard is almost haunting at times in it's use during the verses. The song highlights how messed up life can be, despite appearances of normality. Most of the things mentioned in the song are things that are very real and could happen to people around you. Someone taking an anti-depressant, but then having it make their condition worse? That's a very real situation that some people face.
Then we start James Dean, another song that covers a heavy topic: money and fame. It's a hard song for me to cover honestly, since it's about wanting to die young in order to be remembered.
So that wraps up the first installment of this album review for That Handsome Devil. Part 2 will roll out sometime in the near future.