Sound: Once again, I must note that the Intergalactic bit has been dropped from the name, and appropriately enough. After some major lineup changes, (resulting in Chris Kidd on drums and John Kerns on bass), Robin Black's sound has grown and evolved tremendously since their debut, Planet Fame. The three original members, Ky Antos, Starboy and obviously Robin Black continue to kick ass, I might add. I have to say, I wasn't sure what to think the first time I popped Instant Classic into my stereo. My brother described their newer sound as "more airy."
I can't say that I entirely agree. Indeed, Instant Classic has dispensed with the less-polished, more 'cosmic' quality of Planet Fame. However, this isn't so much of a bad thing. There remains a catchy, hook-laden feel to each song, and the band still emanates with a swaggering, pretty-boy attitude. Robin Black is still, to be summed up in one word: loud. So, what has changed? Along with the glammed-up rock n' roll one would expect, Instant Classic features a more meaningful edge. Here we have a few more ballads, a little more insight into what makes Robin Black, (the band, not the frontman), tick. If I could give the sound a 4.5, I would, but I refuse to drop it to a four. // 10
Lyrics: The songwriting here has reached a much more refined level. The lyrics are well-written and meaningful. And, equally important, they deal with an array of topics, meshing a few well-expressed contemplations on love, (i.e. "Seventeen," "Why Don't You Love Me"?) with in-your-face challenges to be unique ("Over You"). As well, a lot of people can relate to the suffocation of city life expressed in "Out Of The City." Of course, one can't forget to mention the loud, throbbing and catchy-as-hell cover of "Hellraiser," originally done by '70s glam act The Sweet (written, naturally, by Chapman and Chinn). Although the lyrics aren't anything extraordinary, Robin Black does a fantasic job with the vocals on this one-and the back up is equally well-sung.
Overall, Black's vocal skills are much-improved, much more polished, and still range from a sleazy purr to a balls-out scream, (and of course, his vaguely faminine singing voice in between). However, the vocals become a little shaky during the verses of "Over You" and "Lullaby." In a live show, the killer sound and the antics of the band would more than compensate, but on a studio album this costs them a few points. // 8
Overall Impression: All things considered, Instant Classic is a solid effort and wicked album. Planet Fame has its place in my heart, but the band's improvement is clearly proven with their new release. Much of the credit for this should be and in fact has been given to producer Bob Ezrin. I'm loving the variety, both in the lyrics and in the sound. (Not only does "Hellraiser feature horns-Horns, dammit, but the wistful "Lullaby" also involves everything but the traditional guitar and drums setup). Lastly, the song "Seventeen" truly stands out in my mind, regardless of the fact that it is one of the slower songs on the album. This was the only song to feature guitarist Starboy as co-lead vocalist, and effectively weaves the vocal talents of both him and Robin Black to create two seperate moods at the same time. (Those being lovesick rambling "Wish you could see/She's the most beautiful girl in all of the world" and love-induced bitterness "I feel my heart torn from my chest and I've got nothing to show for my pain/I could not swallow your bitter pill and now I'm desperate and lonely again). I strongly recommend this album to anybody with an interest in rock n'roll, '70s style glam, or the idea that "rock is dead." Just be forewarned: the odd impressionable teenaged boy has been known to steal his sister's eyeliner following his induction into the world of Robin Black. // 10