Sound — 5
Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band were originally a dynamic supergroup featuring at-the-time Beatle John Lennon, alongside his spouse Yoko Ono. The band had a very interesting setup when it came to releasing new material; all of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's future solo albums up until 1980, not just collaborations with the Plastic Ono Band, would be credited the name of the group. So in the band's original incarnation, the Plastic Ono Band released a total of ten LPs, which included John's timeless classic rock album "Imagine," and Yoko's more experimental style showcased in "Fly" and "Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band." Following John Lennon's untimely and unfortunate death in 1980, all work and released under the name "Plastic Ono Band" came to a complete halt. Understandably so; John was in essence the heart and soul of the band. Yes, the group had other significant members who had exceptional amounts of musical brilliance, but it was arguably John's influence that made the Plastic Ono Band so standout. No fan could possibly dream that the Plastic Ono Band would ever make another album or perform again without John, however that was until 2009 when Yoko restarted the band, this time enlisting the aid of Ono's son Sean Lennon to lead the band. When the Plastic Ono Band made their resurgence, they released a new studio album, "Between My Head and the Sky," which showed the group continuing to compose and perform music in the same experimental rock style that was Yoko's original direction four decades ago. Four years later, and the band has just now released their follow-up, titled "Take Me to the Land of Hell," which brings along a broad list of guest musicians including Questlove and Lenny Kravitz. This new studio album features twelve new compositions, which continues to show the art rock group remaining true to the style featured on their most recent release. Wailing lead vocals, backed by repetitive distorted guitar chords and electronic beats, comprises most of the new material included on "Take Me to the Land of Hell." Such songs as "Tabetai" come across as very eerie-sounding, with quiet xylophone playing and Yoko's familiar wails making up the majority of the song. Halfway through the track, and the addition out-of-rhythm flute playing is welcomed to the mix. Think of a quieter, yet stranger version of "Why."
Lyrics — 4
On a positive note, the now 80-year old Yoko Ono's actual singing voice has surprisingly remained unaffected by time. But that is about the only thing positive that I can find about this new album. Yoko's lyrical performance is undoubtedly one of this album's weaker sides. Throughout such tracks as the aforementioned "Tabetai," Yoko can be heard almost screaming the repetitive lyrics: "Tabetai/ Ohhhh! / Tabetai/ Ohhhh!" When backed by quiet instrumentation, Yoko's performance takes an apparent tole on the rest of the song and makes for a poor listening experience.
Overall Impression — 5
With their new studio album "Take Me to the Land of Hell," Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band give a performance that is as unconventional as it is odd. Nothing within the actual musical side of this album works together for the benefit of the entire piece. Between the unnecessary tempo changes, bizarre instrumentation and an even more quizzical vocal performance, in the end I'm left puzzled as to what it was I actually just listened to.