Sound — 6
Ludo is a blast of pop-punk/80's synth held together by the vocal brilliance of frontman Andrew Volpe. Volpe plays rhythym guitar as well. Otherwise, the band is made up of lead guitar, bass, drums, and a rather random but welcome Moog synthesizer. Thus, one could say that in terms of the actual ensemble, the only points of true excellence are the Moog and Volpe's vocals. That said, the actual musical sound produced by these instruments is broad and occasionally unique, ranging from the bounce of the ever-popular Love Me Dead to the epic, broad-brush roar of the lesser-known Please. Yet even within those two songs, one can find a range of musical influences, from a ripping solo in Love Me Dead to the minimalist verses of Please. Unfortunately, Ludo falls into the category of muddled, reheated rock on a few too many of their songs. By no means does it come even close to killing the album, but tracks such as Scream, Scream, Scream and Mutiny Below sound like things we've heard before, barring the inclusion of that Moog, of course.
Lyrics — 9
Andrew Volpe is a born songwriter. His past work has established this fact, and he definitely unloads on this CD. Go-Getter Greg is a great example of his ability to paint characters almost effortlessly and create moods with his fantastic sense of delivery. And while The Horror of Our Love is musically unoriginal and lyrically rather bizarre, it is well crafted and delivered with the creepy, gentle touch of a man who can eerily make himself sound like a serial killer. I have to take a moment to say that Volpe's vocals are stunningly good. He rips into Love Me Dead with gusto, but in capable of delivering a full, gentle sound on Topeka and a nasally buzz for Go-Getter Greg. More importantly, it all sounds good. Frequently, on a CD in which a vocalist goes for some of the things Volpe attempts, you catch yourself cringing and thinking, "Yeah, that didn't work." There isn't a single moment of that on this CD.
Overall Impression — 7
In the final analysis, Ludo seems to have had a minor sophomore slump, one CD late. Their first self-titled CD was absolutely brilliant lyrically and in terms of sound, though it wasn't always good. Their second offering, the beyond-awesome EP Broken Bride, established Volpe as fully capable of being drop-dead serious in addition to throwing around songs like Girls On Trampolines. And now, with Love Me Dead, Ludo reverses the situation they dealt with on their first CD. Now, they aren't as original, but they sound pretty for every second of it, and even fabulous through about half of it. I downloaded this beast off of iTunes, and that's probably your best bet, as the song Japan It! is included in that version, while the hard copy ditches that in favor of two 'hidden tracks' that could be done without. Ludo seems to have been victimized by the whole Our Label Is Out Of Touch syndrome in that example. 01. Love Me Dead - their well-known single. Opens with a bouncy-polka progression, then throws itself off the cliff with a driving chorus topped by a screaming Moog and a melody that's going to brand itself into your brain. Listen with caution, as it may cause occasional public bursts of song. 02. Drunken Lament - an amusing and somewhat bitter song best noted for a solid chorus and the opening segment in which Moog and lead guitar match each other on a nice riff. Excellent lyrics on this one, but the melody doesn't grab like it could. 03. Please - this is an absolutely gripping song that goes from being quietly brooding to a full-on power ballad that soars through one of the best choruses I've heard in a long time. Verses are lyrically lacking, but only by comparison. It must be heard simply for Volpe's brilliant vocals. 04. Topeka - an odd but undeniably enjoyable ditty. Lyrically nonsensical, it runs straight ahead on a simple chord progression, relying on a few good lines and a layering of different instruments over the solid and enjoyable acoustic that makes up the bedrock of the song. Nice, tight harmonies here, too. 05. Lake Ponchartrain - a creepy yet hilarious, grinding piece of work loaded with everything from ska-like guitars to full church organs. The lyrics here are as good if not better than Love Me Dead. Also features one of the most unique yet catchy choruses I've ever heard. It's downfall comes in it's lack of a good solo. It just feels like there should be a solid moment to cut loose in there. By no means does that make this song unworthy, however. 06. Such As It Ends - a mostly forgettable pop-punk song. Moog is used to attempt to give it something to grab you, but the song lacks a good hook. Volpe is excellent as always, but musically, the song falls on its face. 07. Mutiny Below - opens with the ultimate pop-punk cliche: a blast of sustained chord over a Hammond B-3 complete with Leslie speaker cab. It goes on to continue that theme of forgettable, cliched melody and music, although the lyrics prop it up a little. 08. Streetlights - is an odd little song. An acoustic guitar and a piano open beneath a strange, almost classical melody set to atmospheric lyrics. It goes downhill from there, however. This song, too, neglects a melody, relying on the interesting instrumental choices of violins playing pizzicatto and an accordion. The bridge mixes it up a little throwing a mandolin into the fray. 09. Go-Getter Greg - feels like a song that's definitely the best of both worlds: an old-school Ludo feel with that fresh tight sound and fabulous vocals. While it's not the most original musically and it lacks a solid hook, the melody is catchy, the chorus is infectious, and the lyrics are laugh-out-loud funny. A must-listen. 10. The Horror Of Our Love - is just weird. I have no idea what Volpe was thinking when he wrote this, but I doubt that his original idea was for it to develop into the minimalist, acoustic, floaty song that this became. Musically nice, lyrically twisted. It was probably an attempt to be funny that just crash-and-burned. You can definitely skip this one. 11. Scream, Scream, Scream - is more of the same derivate work that is peppered through the album. The lyrics make a good point about the nature of the music world today that definitely needs to be heard, but the song lacks a hook and a good melody. Ultimately forgettable, except for the lyrics. 12. In Space - an interesting piece that is definitely on the musically cliched side, but Volpe and the boys pull it out with good lyrics, a well-written chorus, and some very excellent Moog work. As a matter of fact, the Moog keeps this song interesting throughout much of it's length. 13. Japan It! (iTunes bonus track) - a song that really should have been included on the full CD. This song gives us a ballad-like, Moog-infested tweak of modern America's obsession with Asia. Worthy of mention is the heavy application of a wah pedal and a great solo. Ludo is back on form here, throwing down fabulous lyrics, wonderfully random interjections of "USA! USA! USA!," an excellent hook, and full use of heavy sarcasm. In conclusion, buy it. Then buy Broken Bride. You won't be disappointed.