Sound — 5
"Albatross" is the third studio album from the Canadian rock band Big Wreck. Big Wreck was traditionally a progressive rock group, and the band became most popular in Canada, where their debut album went double platinum. To my surprise, Big Wreck has had a history of major success. The band went on to tour with progressive metal band Dream Theater, and even had current Slash lead singer Myles Kennedy guest star on their second album. Unfortunately, Big Wreck was reduced to being a one-hit wonder, with their only major success being "The Oaf", the single off their debut album. In 2001, Big Wreck broke up, and nothing more was heard from this group.
But something about 2012 has all of those great bands from the past returning to the present and pushing out new music. Long time fans of the band, however, may be a little disappointed with this new album. Big Wreck seems to have forgotten their hard and progressive rock history, and instead enjoy playing and writing music that has been heavily influenced by today's pop rock. The album starts out with "Head Together", which immediately sets the pace and sound for the entire album. To me, this is an absolute pop song, meant to hit the radios and get attention from the pop loving youth. The distorted, palm muted guitar that will jump in and out of the song is almost dying to give the track and album a heavier sound to it, but vocalist Ian Thornley, in a way, seals the fate of this album's sound.
Ian's vocals are simply meant to thrive in pop music. His is like a clash between a Coldplay's singing techniques and a sound similar to that of 3 Doors Down. Other similar sounding songs include "Albatross", "A Million Days", "You Caught My Eye", and "All Is Fair". This album also contains a few surprises, such as "Rest Of The World", which contains heavily distorted guitar with screaming vocals, which unfortunately still cannot break away from that mainstream, pop sound. The entire album has a consistent sound, and this helps the album more or less flow easier. In the end, it just comes down to the type of music you enjoy listening to.
Lyrics — 3
As I mentioned above, Ian Thornley's vocals simply sound ideal for pop rock. However, on tracks such as "Rest Of The World", his screaming, high pitched voice clashes against a heavily distorted guitar, which renders the song nearly unlistenable. The lyrics for most of the songs seem very strange and unenjoyable. For example, the entire chorus "Head Together" is: "I neeeeeed to keep my head together. I don't neeeeeed to be nobody else." The song then transitions back into whispered vocals about "needing to shine my shoes" and heavily distorted guitar. This stays constant for nearly the entire album, which makes the experience that much harder to enjoy.
Overall Impression — 5
"Albatross" by Big Wreck is a very strange return for the former hard and progressive rock band. This album shows the band digging out their heavier, deeper roots and replacing them with the pop rock sound that is most popular today. This entire album sounds identical to anything I would hear if I tuned into any mainstream radio station today. I strongly feel that any classic, hard rock fan will have an incredibly difficult time tolerating the lyrics for the songs, let alone enjoying the music featured on this album. But if you enjoy listening to the pop music of today, you will absolutely have no problem enjoying this album.