Sound — 9
There are several things about Blue October that I like alot. One is the fact that they experiment with all sorts of genre's, styles, techniques, all the while still retining a really clear direction, their creativity never gets the best of them, leading the band to put out a record of pure unadulterated chaos. They have discovered a sound, and they use it to their advantage on this record. On songs like 'You Make Me Smile' and 'Into The Ocean' the guitar seems to take a backseat to the drums and bass, and yet it still seems very powerful. The bass and drums are phenomenal, and they never overpower any of the other instruments. There are some delicate keyboard parts on 'Into The Ocean' that melodically guide the song through the verses. There are other songs, like 'Hate Me' and 'Sound Of Pulling Heaven Down' Rely on the acoutic guitar to carry the song, especially the former. Most of the songs feature acoustic guitar work, however. that's not to say that some of the angst-ridden rock isn't still in evidence. The song 'Drilled A Wire Through My Cheek' features a Nine Inch Nails-esque chorus. Other songs, like 'X-Amount Of Words', feature a very NIN style background, and this song in particular features a very techno-esque bass line. A good deal of the songs also feature a sample of the chorus of 'Calling You', a song which (I believe) was recorded for a previous album. The band presents a very cohesive front on this record. For some the album may drag, because most of the sogns are slower tempo, but this is easy to forget, mainly becuase the songs are so touching and personal. I'd give it a 10 if the jazzy guitar styles didn't conflict with some of the more rock-oriented tunes.
Lyrics — 10
I love Justin's voice. He's so emotional and sincere. it's impossible to listen to song's like 'Hate Me' and 'You Make Me Smile' without feeling some emotion. 'Hate Me', an acoustic ballad written for his mother, tells about pushing someone away, just for their own good. Justin is a very capable singer. He may not have the best voice, but his gravelly tones fit very well with the rest of the music. In 'Drilled A Wire... ' he changes effortlessly from a breathy Trent Reznot tone, to a very mocking, self-assured tone for the chorus. This fits the mood of the song very well. Sometimes the lyrics tend to get a bit tedious, but these moments never last long. They are always very personal and exposed, and Justin has the voice to pull off the lyrics without sounding forced or cliched.
Overall Impression — 10
The music and lyrics tend to remind of groups like Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, The Fray and Nine Inch Nails. I'm a huge fan of all of these except the first. The best songs on the album for me are 'You Make Me Smile', 'Drilled A Wire... ', Into the Ocean' and 'X-Amount Of Words'. My favorite thing about the whole album is the blend of Justin's voice with the rest of the music. I like the way the record juxtaposes jazzy guitar lines with emotional lyrics. On the otehr hand, sometimes those same guitar lines feel like they would be better suited to a piano. I would definitely buy this again if it was stolen.