Review : Flyleaf - Memento Mori
EwTexas fivesome Flyleaf achieved surprise platinum status with their slow-build 2005 debut — a success due equally, no doubt, to their brooding alt-metal aggression and Christian subtext. On Memento Mori, Frontwoman Lacey Mosley couches her searching wails in couplets that expertly walk the line between secular and God-centered. Her passionate devotionals make for galvanizing, if eventually exhausting, listening. Even the Lord rested on the seventh day. B...full text
NytimesIn 1986 Bob Dylan collaborated with Kurtis Blow on “Street Rock,” undoubtedly sending both hip-hop fans and Dylanologists lunging for the fast-forward button. Both parties will be relieved to know that Mr. Dylan has not collaborated with Juelz Santana on “Mixing Up the Medicine,” his virtuoso new single produced by Kane Beatz. As usual, Juelz Santana, the Harlem rap star, finds new high-life metaphors — “I’m ballin’ like the ’80s/I’m so James Worthy” — and flexes sharp internal rhymes: “You wanna get loud? You’ll get blasted/Boombox/Attitude like Tupac when ‘Juice’ dropped.” Doing the nasal Dylan impression on the hook, which turns “Subterranean Homesick Blues” more druggy, is YelaWolf, a white rapper from Alabama with a classic rock jones and a glorious, tinny drawl, as heard on last year’s mixtape “Stereo.” On his forthcoming mixtape, “Trunk Muzik,” he boasts, “Trashed off the glue you build an airplane model with/In the gutter like an empty PBR bottle is.”
Justin Bieber is only 15, but his mind is old. Unlike teen-pop stars a whole two or three years older than he is, Mr. Bieber isn’t shy about planting the seeds of corruption. “Everybody says that we look cute together/Let’s make this a night the two of us remember,” he sings on “First Dance,” from his debut EP “My World” (Island), which features Usher and echoes Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone.” “No teachers around to see us dancing close/I’m telling you our parents will never know.” But daughters don’t have to be hidden away for the duration of “One World”: “Down to Earth” and “One Less Lonely Girl” are uncomplicatedly beautiful and earnest. And “My World” is probably the only release in recent memory that owes debts to both the Cardigans (on “Love Me,” which interpolates that band’s “Love Fool”) and Guy, on the new jack swing-accented “Bigger”: “I was a player when I was little/But now I’m bigger.” Earplugs back in, young ladies....full text
SputnikmusicOpening track, "Beautiful Bride", is a terrible song to open Memento Mori with. The riffs are boring, the vocals are lackluster, the hook is weak, and the group-singing near the end is awful. If that song was representative of the quality found on this album the band would have been in trouble. After a complete listen, though, it turns out that it is easily the worst track on the album and probably should have been completely omitted. Where that song’s riffs feel dull and lifeless, the rest of the album’s are chunky and energetic. Where Lacey’s vocals fall short on the opener, they excel everywhere else – and most importantly while “Beautiful Bride” is instantly forgettable, the rest of the album is full of strong hooks and entertaining songwriting. This is largely achieved by the band being content to simply make minor adjustments to the formula that worked so well on their debut. The unfortunate thing is that not all of these adjustments work, resulting in an album that is basically one step forward but two steps back.
The most noticeable modification is found in the removal of a majority of the aggressive moments in favor of a poppier undercurrent. This change actually works reasonably well as it enhances the strongest element of the band’s sound – the choruses. This means that while listeners aren’t going to find an equivalent to “I’m So Sick”, they are going to get a collection of memorable alt. metal songs that don’t sound as forced. Songs such as “Missing” even go so far as to almost take a page from Paramore in its upbeat, chorus-driven direction. When the band focuses on Lacey’s vocals and the power of their hooks it often leads to some of the strongest songs of the album – it’s when they go back to the grittier alt. metal of their debut that they begin to waver.
It’s obvious that some effort was made to develop the riffs and melodies beyond the simple forms they contained on the debut, but it doesn’t always seem to work. First and foremost, they aren’t nearly as instant as they were on the debut which often lessens the impact these heavier songs may have had. The lack of instant riffs wouldn’t be horrible if they simply required a bit more time and attention to click, but that’s not the problem. The issue is that they sometimes just sound awkward and disjointed. When this is combined with melodies that don’t gel with the rest of the music (see “This Close”), it results in songs that seem to falter and languish. That’s not to say that all of the riffs are bad, because quite a few of them work quite well, only that when they don’t it can get pretty bad....full text
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