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RARB REVIEW

School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Group: Xtension Chords
Album: Shock Value

Total time: 51:01, 13 songs
Recorded 1994

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Picture Perfect (8.2)
  2. Africa (6.6)
  3. Saturday in the Park (7.8)
  4. '39 (5.6)
  5. Island Girl (4.8)
  6. On The Turning Away (5.4)
  7. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (7.6)
  8. Freeze Frame (8.4)
  9. Good Vibrations (5.8)
  10. Critical Mass (4.8)
  11. You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (6.6)
  12. Hushabye (7.4)
  13. The Look (8.0)

Reviews

This album was reviewed by five members of RARB. In this compilation, their comments are always listed in a consistent order. Thus, for each song (and in the "overall" section), all comments numbered "1" are from the same reviewer, as are those numbered "2", etc.

Overall

  1. This is an extraodinarily solid album. The Xtension Chords aren't looking to change the face of college a cappella singing, and a few of the tracks read as generic all male a cappella arrangements, but there are moments of true greatness on this album. In particular, the album is anchored at the beginning, end, and middle with some of the finest singing and creative arranging I've heard (Picture Perfect, The Look, and Freeze Frame). Even in the less inspired arrangements, the group maintains a remarkably rich sound and consistent blend. These guys sing very well. I find it particularly encouraging that my favorite track on the album was the last one recorded (Picture Perfect, spring 95). I think this bodes well for this group. They have some strong years ahead of them.
    Rating: 8 (6.5)

  2. Well, it's a good college-group album, which means a couple of things in my book: it's generally entertaining, but there's nothing so spectacular that it transcends what many other college groups are capable of.

    I did have a few quibbles with various parts of the album, but they are minor compared with what I would normally criticize but don't have reason to here: the group's energy is almost always at an appropriate level for the song (which isn't always easy when the only audience you have is a microphone), the arrangements are generally interesting and well-crafted, and the songs often showcase very skilled soloists.

    All in all, if you've got the spare cash, there are worse ways you could spend it than to go with this album.
    Rating: 7 (7.5)

  3. Before I say anything else, I should admit up front that I love camp. Someone once told me that you could always tell the true queens because their dresses _fit_, and the similarly unselfconscious flaming glory of some of the stuff lurking on this album had me fit to be tied. "The Look" is definitely the campiest a cappella extravaganza since the Spizzwinks(?)'s Sex Medley, and perhaps more so if you've only heard the latter and not seen Yale men voguing in action. That being said, on to the music.

    The Xchords have a big sound that has the same blend-o-rama fuzziness of some of the better ivy groups. It's not an awful effect, but — now don't freak guys — it has to get a little choral sounding when you get a big group together and have more than 2 on a part in complex arrangements. (I'm guessing here — cut me some slack.) If the whole group had lightened up and backed off the tone they might have been able to staunch this in places — a few songs needed to chill. Ain't no dynamics nowhere — too bad, they could have made some good songs great. They do get definite plus points for having someone who can really whistle (with out that annoying chirpy sound) and making great use of it in the arrangements. The arrangements are good, and make good use of high stuff in general by expertly walking the fine line between milking talent and overdoing it. There was only one glaringly bad falsetto on the album (at the end of "You Took The Words..."), which has got to be a record, and even that was in tune. There's a good bit of energy, and some really funky stuff that made the album a pleasure to listen to for me. I also confess to liking most of the little gags that most of the songs have hidden in the ending — they are subtle and musically accurate, so I let them get away with it even if it is formulaic.

    This album is good enough that you don't have to be a Priscilla fan to appreciate it. But it doesn't hurt.
    Rating: 9 (7.0)

  4. After reading all of the unqualified praise being heaped upon this album on the internet, I was expecting it to be a lot better than it is. "Shock Value" is a very solid album, there are a couple tracks that are really good, but is just not in the same class as some of the albums it's been compared to. The Xtension Chords are a group that has a lot going for them: some creative arrangers, a few very nice soloists ("Picture Perfect" had a GREAT solo), very few pitch problems. But the threshold they fail to cross is to take those skills and form something interesting from a musical standpoint. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (of all things) come closest to doing this, but the rest of the album falls very much into the category of standard collegiate male a cappella. I have a feeling that the next album this group produces may deserve the accolades this one has received, but "Shock Value" was an unpleasant surprise.
    Rating: 6 (5.5)

  5. Overall, the Xtension Chords are a solid, talented group of men. They are strong, confident, and almost always right on the mark. They've got a good number of voices for the arrangements which they sing, and a good balance of voice parts. The album is a high quality recording, and consists of a variety of song choices, though a little heavy on covers of the Beach Boys for my taste. Some of their other arrangements are simply inspired. An arrangement can really make the difference in a song, and this group has got a couple of really talented arrangers. My only complaint is that the syllable "ba-ba" is overused in their songs. But other than that, there is not much fault to be found with this album. It is a truly enjoyable listen.
    Rating: 8 (6.9)


Individual Tracks

  1. Picture Perfect (8.2)
    1. WOW! This track kicks. A hook that doesn't quit, a soloist who swings, and a group with a rock solid sound. The blend is superb. I really can't say enough good things about this track. I've listened to it three times in a row now and I'm still not tired of it. It's GREAT.
      Rating: 10

    2. It took me a few listens to like this song. It's basically a straight-ahead pop song, and plain old pop songs rarely excite me. However, once I got past the fact that it was just pop, I found things to like: the soloist (who has a _very_ distinctive voice) is energetic and nails every note and embellishment he attempts. The percussion is spot-on, and the arrangement varies enough to keep it interesting. Overall, pretty entertaining for a pop song.
      Rating: 7

    3. I don't think I'd ever heard this song before. It reminded me of a more cheerful Hootie and the Blowfish, so if this is completely wrong to those of you who know the song, subtract 1 from my score. The solo got a little lost, and the bass melody echo is a little blurred — the high harmony worked better. The background-on-the-words parts were much clearer than the rest of the song. As far as I can tell the song was done pretty well — though the key change didn't grab me — but it's so muddy that I was just going on the absence of glaring error to assume it's in tune.
      Rating: 7

    4. A strong, energetic opening track that makes you forget that the sound quality on "Shock Value" really isn't that high. But despite the empty production, this is a good arrangement and boasts a strong lead. Performed with panache and a wicked snare sound, I think this is one of the better openers I've heard.
      Rating: 8

    5. The album gets off to a strong start with this song. The arrangement is great: busy without being cluttered. Great vocal percussion, too. Solid all around.
      Rating: 9

  2. Africa (6.6)
    1. Nice rich opening. This group has a very nice low end. Soloist has a nice voice, though diction is a bit odd at times. The arrangement feels a bit week at the beginning of the chorus. The 1st tenors are singing the melody alone in a very high register. They do a nice job, but it just feels empty. More parts join them as the chorus goes on, but it really feels like the bottom drops out from under them each time. Still, for the most part, a very solid all-male sound.
      Rating: 8

    2. Starts out with strangely muted percussion followed by satisfyingly low basses on the main figure. The soloist matches the original well, but is occasionally drowned out by the background. The arrangement of the chorus is frustrating; the third & fourth lines ("I bless the rains down in Africa/Gonna take the time...") are interesting with some harmonic twists, but the first two lines of the chorus are weak and empty, especially when the background drops out. This isn't a new problem; I have yet to hear a group sing the chorus to this song with sufficient power or enough supporting harmonies to make up for the lack of volume. Finally, they left out the middle instrumental section! I was bummed. Still, aside from all that, it is pleasant to listen to; no huge gaffes.
      Rating: 6

    3. I cut my teeth on the Clefs' arrangement, which is still my favorite arrangement of this song, so I suppose I'm biased. This isn't too bad, though, if a bit heavy for my taste — I think it would have worked better if everybody had backed off and brightened a tad. The semi-pitched percussion is very good — again I would have added some cleaner sounds, particularly on the non-bass drum stuff, cause all these variations on "ch" and "dj" don't exactly clean up the sound. They use the same chorus effect they did on the unisons in the last song to blend the choruses. Hint: it's more effective if you limit it. I could have used more from the soloist, but mixing him louder probably would have just made him stick out. Great, pretty unison by the basses at the end.
      Rating: 7

    4. An uninspiring version of an oft-covered classic 80s tune- it just doesn't have that feeling. There is very little wrong with this track: solid solo, chords mostly in tune, strong sense of rhythm. But it's the little nuances that are just flat-out missing. I never got a sense that they ever let it all hang out on this track. And hey, mixing au natural is fine, but at least mix out the microphone pops!
      Rating: 5

    5. Though I think this song is overdone, especially by all-male college groups, this is one of the better versions I have heard. The arrangement is pretty standard. The steady percussion is notable, though — it keeps the song going. Beautiful background blend.
      Rating: 7

  3. Saturday in the Park (7.8)
    1. The opening sounds quite square. The "bahs" just don't cut it. The percussion feels a bit awkward in this one. I doubt that it's really necessary. I really wonder how they're doing those brass lines. There must be some processing going on there. The middle section actually works pretty well, although the return to the "Bahs" in the main verse are disappointing. I'm not sure if the ending of this arrangement works. Still a strong sound and good singing.
      Rating: 6

    2. This track is my favorite. There's plenty of energy, the horns are frighteningly real-sounding, and the soloists do a great job. The arranger went for a close-to-the-original sound, and pretty much succeeded. Only a couple of tuning missteps and an odd, almost-too-abrupt ending mar it.
      Rating: 9

    3. I love this song! I was so thrilled to see it get such great treatment. I don't want to know what they did to the horns to get them to sound so cool — I liked it, that's good enough. I wasn't crazy about the "listen children" part, but I'll let it slide. Great solo, above average bassline, the occasional percussion has the same force as in a Yes song, and those damn horns are so cool. The solo substitutions are well executed, too — no loss in continuity. Yay!!!
      Rating: 9

    4. This arrangement really works at its most complex (with those incredible horns!), but breaks down to the pedantic when it simplifies for the segment preceding the chorus. The polyrhythmic counterpoint is well handled, and the horn sound is amazing, but it couldn't hold my interest over the whole song.
      Rating: 6

    5. This album is worth the price just to hear (and appreciate) the vocal "horn section" in this song alone. Wow. Nicely executed tempo changes, and difficult timing of crossing parts in the background are carried off well. The group could use another syllable in the background besides "ba-ba-ba," however.
      Rating: 9

  4. '39 (5.6)
    1. A pretty straightforward, well performed "traditional" a cappella piece that occasionally lapses into beauty. They need to be a bit more careful with those semitones in the middle section. The tenors start wandering right around there.
      Rating: 5

    2. Okay, I give up; what the heck is this song about? Whatever it is, they sing it reasonably well. The chords don't always lock, and I'm not sure if the soloist is supposed to sound like Freddie Mercury (he doesn't, really), but other than that it's generally fun and some of the high chords do sound pretty Queen-like. Using some syllables on the accompaniment figure other than 'doot-bah' all the time would have helped.
      Rating: 7

    3. Did this one have to be so loud? It's in decent tune, but that beginning could sure use some dynamics. Besides loudest. The rest of the song just bops a long with a typical beach boys/marching-band bass line. Whee! Oooh, I love the "don't you hear me calling yous" — that falsetto pride thing again. The final chorus is the best part of the song, and the quartet is a great idea and gives a rest from the frontal assault.
      Rating: 6

    4. I can't recall the original by Queen, but I don't think Queen sounded this much like the Kings Singers. The Xtension Chords seem to have adopted the King Singers choral enunciation and complete lack of soul without capturing the precise synchronicity of the group they imitate.
      Rating: 4

    5. Nice use of dynamics in the choral sections, and good, smooth blend. Though not as tight as the previous tracks, this song really moves. I was humming this one all day.
      Rating: 6

  5. Island Girl (4.8)
    1. The style of the music suggests that they're trying for a tropical, "Kiss dee Girl" sound. But the arrangement is a choral one. As a result the whole song feels very straight, almost plodding. There are a couple of spots where they experiment with vowel sounds, but unfortunately they chose the wrong vowel. The soloist has a nice voice, but doesn't sell the part enough.
      Rating: 3

    2. Ack! The chorus to this song gets _really_ old! Man, is it repetitive. The other parts of the song are fun, though; sometimes I can't get the part where they're all singing "co-co" out of my head. They also throw in a bit of "Kokomo" in at the end; they apparently love to throw in extra songs. It works all right here.
      Rating: 6

    3. Whoa. Calypso swing (too loud again, too heavy again) but the beginning is still fun, and just when you get into it, mister White Boy comes out and blithes through the solo like Timmy from Lassie or some other paragon of American blandness telling about his peachy-keen trip to the islands. Oh wait, isn't that what they were shooting for? You be the judge. Pitch is fine, except for a few questionable repetitions of the chorus hook at the end. The other several hundred didn't bother me, though, so I'll cut them some slack.
      Rating: 6

    4. This doesn't do much for me. Simplistic arrangement is performed without dynamics or much attempt at blend for the first two and a half minutes. By the time they got to the interesting part, I no longer cared. Also the flange effect seems out of place here.
      Rating: 4

    5. This one is a little choppy, and could be a lot peppier. The solo is on and in tune, but a bit bland. The deep bass part is good, but this track seems to drag on too long.
      Rating: 5

  6. On The Turning Away (5.4)
    1. The opening shows off some remarkable resonance. At times this group is organ-like. The first minute is particularly difficult for the soloists, and they do an admirable job. The arrangement tries very hard to generate some excitement, but I'm not particularly fond of the source material. I just don't think there's that much there to work with. The group is a bit rough at times.
      Rating: 3

    2. Pink Floyd is difficult to pull off a cappella; they do a respectable job here. The weakest element is the group of soloists; they aren't always in tune with each other or the background, and they don't really sound like they mean the lyrics. I kept expecting the syncopations and sharp dropoffs of David Gilmour's singing style, but instead got a very straight, choral, holding-to-the-end-of-the-beat solo style. The arrangement is pretty creative, though. With a different group of soloists the song could be quite wonderful.
      Rating: 7

    3. I understand the concept of free time, but the rhythm/phrasing just doesn't sound right for the first verse. The quiet is nice, actually, the mix and dynamics are the best yet, though I could have asked for more intensity from the basses in the beginning. The interspersed wordless oohs are pretty good. _Great_ segue into the last verse, with the ultrabass — that's worth listening to the whole damn thing. Wish they'd ended there — I was feeling all warm and fuzzy and then got one more verse of Floyd — not bad, but with that straining David Gilmoresque timbre.
      Rating: 7

    4. In as much as the Pink Floyd version lacks the kind of texture that would lead one to believe this would be a good a cappella song, I guess the arrangement is OK, but the solos really need to be wonderful on top of the blendy background, and they just aren't up to snuff. Too many pitch problems in the harmonies. Musically, this track seems like it came from a different group.
      Rating: 4

    5. Points for attempting Pink Floyd, but I just don't think their style translates very easily to a cappella. Having said that, I will point out the very lush harmony at the beginning, and the impressive sustained tones, especially in the bass part. Some slight intonation problems in the solos — they tend to waver at times.
      Rating: 6

  7. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (7.6)
    1. I was quite skeptical when I saw this on the cd. It's a pretty overplayed song. However, much to my delight, the arrangement is chock full of charm. The beginning is very well conceived, with the legendary "wimowe" chants being sung with a half time feel. (The basses aren't completely on, but it's not too bad.) It's actually quite exciting when they suddenly settle into the familiar groove. The rest of the track is also filled with clever musical surprises. It's well performed and quite entertaining to listen to. A special mention goes to the 1st tenor soloist. His voice is beautiful.
      Rating: 8

    2. Well, if you're going to do 'Lion,' this is the way to do it. Throwing in portions of many other similarly-structured songs, they keep the song from getting too repetitive. I also appreciate the inclusion of TMBG's variation "In the spaceship, the silver spaceship..." Tuning & rhythm are all fine. But really, even if it's this good, did we need another 'Lion'?
      Rating: 8

    3. White boys doing Ladysmith. That's okay, it's a good cover of the Spike & Co. intro, and most audiences couldn't pick out the difference. The reeeaally high obligato is great, soft yet deliciously shrill.

      Okay, here's where that lecture in the beginning comes in. The solo is great — deadpan, I can just see him in jeans and a t-shirt with a bow in his hair and opera-singer clasped hands. Mary Janes would be perfect, but it's so tough to find them in large sizes. Rrrrrrrow!

      The song would also be perfect for elementary school kids. They would love the Lion King reference, miss the TMBG reference and get a kick out of the goofy antics — these guys do sound really friendly and like they'd be good with kids.
      Rating: 8

    4. This is a really nice, very creative arrangement journeying through the disparate styles this song has existed in. I found the constant changes slightly aggravating, and the performance spotty (the beginning was sublime, but "Brown Eyed Girl" needs a fast infusion of a tonal center). Still, this is a clever and very enjoyable track.
      Rating: 7

    5. Don't cringe — it's not the same old tired version of this song. This is a creative arrangement which includes portions of various arrangements of this song, as well as snatches of "Don't Worry, Be Happy," "Brown-Eyed Girl," and even "Hakuna Matata" worked in. The solo is silky smooth - very nice.
      Rating: 7

  8. Freeze Frame (8.4)
    1. Great Arrangement. It manages to feel rhythmically complete with out being overly busy. The groups energy is fantastic. They're just right on. The chorusing effect at the end is probably unnecessary, but that certainly doesn't detract from a brilliantly executed track.
      Rating: 9

    2. Good old rock & roll. Everyone's on top of this song: the percussion is a lot of fun to listen to, the group's energy is up, the soloist is good, and the arrangement is interesting. I really liked it.
      Rating: 10

    3. Like, totally eighties. Pass the hair spray, and bump up the solo on the mixer on your way. I'm not fond of the "ppsh!" sound on percussion ever, but otherwise the percussion is good, particularly when combined with the claps. The call and response spoken-word bridges are terrific, and that great Xchords syllabification is in effect. The falsetto knockouts at the end have just the right amount of studio effects and are a breath of fresh air. Fun song.
      Rating: 7

    4. This track has the same things going for it as the first song. Good arrangement, strong energy, great percussion. The solos are together, and if the basses drove the rhythm a little more, I think this track would be just as enjoyable as the opener. As it is, it is a good track.
      Rating: 7

    5. Big points for authenticity here. If you are a fan of the original, you'll love this. There are no holes here — it is strong and solid. Good camera sound effects, and the percussion is really fantastic!
      Rating: 9

  9. Good Vibrations (5.8)
    1. Coming off of the previous track, the energy feels really low on this one. There are pitch problems in the tenor lines. It does some neat things in the middle section. But ultimately, it doesn't really add any to the original song. I could do just fine without it.
      Rating: 4

    2. If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'd like (the Beach Boys don't do it for me). It's certainly a worthy attempt at the Beach Boy sound, with a lot of variations and song-quoting to keep your attention. A lot of work went into this one and it sounds good; it's just not music that I like.
      Rating: 7

    3. Doot! doot! doot! (sorry, I got carried away.) I'm not sure if it's a good thing that a big group of American college students can sound so much like six balding Englishmen, but they do it very well. I also thought the I Get Around stuff/tempo-change was a big success.
      Rating: 7

    4. A credible cover of the Kings Singers version of the song. But it is without soul or any consciousness of how to sing rock music. Mostly responsible for this lack of soul is the lead, who does his best British accent. So let's see: an American vocal group covering an arrangement by a bunch of British madrigalists who were covering an American teeny-bopper group. Too many layers to deconstruct here, but I would have liked to see some more forcefulness in the lead voice.
      Rating: 5

    5. A second Beach Boys tune here, and overall, not very exciting. It's not bad, just not a real attention-grabber, and it goes on for too long. The modulation is good, though, and the whistling is a nice touch.
      Rating: 6

  10. Critical Mass (4.8)
    1. A little vocal quartet that seems a bit out of place on the album. But still, I'm glad it's there. The vocal performance is fine.
      Rating: 6

    2. This was an odd change of pace: a relatively slow, wordless piece by Crosby, Stills & Nash. I would have thought that if they were going to throw in such a classical-sounding piece that they would make sure it was absolutely top-notch. There are enough tuning and vowel-matching problems that it doesn't qualify as great; it's just OK. In addition, I don't find the piece to be that interesting in the first place, no matter how well it's sung. This piece didn't really add anything to the album for me.
      Rating: 5

    3. Strange.
      Rating: 5

    4. The worst musical performance on "Shock Value", this is riddled with massive pitch problems snuggled among the few nice musical moments.
      Rating: 3

    5. On this song without words, the group performs well as a unit. It's a nice change of pace, and can be almost meditative, but the tuning sounds a little off for much of the piece.
      Rating: 5

  11. You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (6.6)
    1. Very standard a cappella fodder. The ensemble work is tight. The soloist has a very nice voice. The arrangement isn't the most brilliant one in the world, but it works just fine. I don't mind listening to this at all.
      Rating: 6

    2. Meat Loaf's version never did much for me, but this one's got a lot to recommend it. The soloist has a really nice approach to the song, and the harmony part fits well (despite one or two times that the two don't lock). The arrangement is quite good; the buildup to the end is especially well done, the bass part is interesting, and the arranger does a good job of bringing the background in on key words instead of just spouting meaningless syllables.
      Rating: 9

    3. Every group needs something that one can listen to and feel happy about, even when it's not at its best. This song seems to fulfill that function, and the recorded version is actually musically decent except for that falsetto guy at the end who gets a little out of hand. I must say, though, the "lickin' you, lickin' you" transition into the second and last verses raised my eyebrows.
      Rating: 7

    4. OK, I'm not a big Meatloaf fan, and this version didn't inspire me to change my mind. It's very solid, and musically together, but it just doesn't have much to say as a composition. Ken Purchase arranges an excellent bridge, but I wanted the song to be something it wasn't.
      Rating: 5

    5. Great song choice — a bold undertaking. I'm not sure about the choral interpretation of the Meatloaf song, though. The beginning is weak, and the solo just doesn't quite pull this song off. It's unique, at any rate. Not much like the original, and much slower, but still fairly enjoyable to listen to.
      Rating: 6

  12. Hushabye (7.4)
    1. It's a great showcase for their 1st tenor soloist. The group is a bit ragged in a few spots, and even the soloist pulls a bit sharp on a note or two. But most of it is very pretty.
      Rating: 7

    2. Wow. Another Beach Boys song, but I really liked this one. In fact, it's gorgeous. The soloist/falsettist on top of it all really knows what he's doing, and the underlying chords are very well sung, locking all the time. This is a beautiful song. Turn off all the lights and crank this one up. Preferably with a date.
      Rating: 9

    3. More words would have been nice. I could point out a few questionable chords, a few nice spots, and say something lukewarm about the tone of this song, but why bother.
      Rating: 6

    4. A pretty nice doo-wop style Beach Boys lullabye, performed with the classic Beach Boys nasal falsetto. I've never heard the original, but I have a feeling this version is a very competent imitation.
      Rating: 7

    5. A lovely doo-wop ballad, sung with an absolutely beautiful falsetto. Smooth blend and full group sound. I love this one.
      Rating: 8

  13. The Look (8.0)
    1. The group brings out another song with a great groove. There's just a lot going on in this arrangement, but again, it never feels cluttered or hectic. Just a lot of energy. The extended ending is a bit indulgent, but it's still a lot of fun.
      Rating: 9

    2. This one's primarily a combination of some Roxette material and the closing section of "Hey Jude". Each section by itself is pretty cool; I don't know much Roxette, but this had a good groove to it and the soloists had style. The 'Hey Jude' section is entertaining, if only because you catch a different song quoted every time. It is, however, LONG (of course). My biggest problem with this one is the transition between the two sections; I would have preferred a more seamless segue into 'Hey Jude'; as it is, it's like they're announcing "Hey everybody, watch! We're CHANGING SONGS!" I say, better to surprise the listener than telegraph your move.
      Rating: 8

    3. This is an amazing arrangement!! The syllables on "She's Got the Look" are wonderful, pitch is pretty good and the solo almost has that Roxette sound. The "oh" ornaments during the verse before the second chorus are clear and pretty and are a nice touch over the jumble in the background — while nothing is too dirty, something non-raspy is nice. The transition into "Joyride" is pretty good — the falsetto echo reminds me of the unforgettable Michael Callen, although he never would have been flat on the entrances. The whistles are yet another example of the cool tricks lurking in this arr. The Xchords' big and a little breathy-blended sound does make the sound a trifle muddy and the not-in-a-bad way bottom-heavy complicated stuff loses the bass, but it's still great. The basses have some great moments — they are clearly having loads of fun and blend wonderfully with each other. There's something wicked about hearing this many men sing "we're all magic friends" in chest voice and big chords and be dead serious. :]

      You may have noticed my comments are way long — so is this song. Like the comments, it could have been considered too long, but they had so much they wanted to fit in. Luckily, most any pop song can be sung over a Roxette chord structure so you're safe. I mean, Hey Jude is immediately what comes to mind, right? And I would immediately mix that with Beck, plus snippets from "Totally Eighties" and the Dr. Demento archives — snicker. I laughed really hard the first time I heard this. The recovery from "Leonard Bernstein" is very accurate, so either they spent a lot of time overdubbing it in or they really worked on the entrance. I loved the descant yeahs at the end, though I couldn't identify them and a lot of other snippets. In closing, I'd like to give the flame-o-rama award to the guy(s) who brought you "heart and soul" and "what's up" and did them better than most groups with women can manage (apologies to the goddess in the Faux Paz). Hats off.
      Rating: 9

    4. Portions of this song are just damn good, but it takes a while to get off the ground. It does bother me that just as we had a full head of steam going with "The Look", we medleyize into "Joyride". This medley is clever, but it really distracts from the core arrangement that really would have been maybe the best track on the album. Some of the references are strained ("Freedom" is really forced, so is "Right Here, Right Now"). This medley has no musical raison d' etre.
      Rating: 7

    5. Another uncommon song choice for this kind of group, and this one is done well. It is performed with great energy and attitude. I'm not sure it is their best song to end the album with, but nonetheless, it's a solid and interesting arrangement. The segue into/overlap with "Hey Jude" and a plethora of other songs is clever and it works. They sample too many songs to list here, but among my favorites are "Karma Chameleon" and "James Brown Celebrity Hottub." Listen closely at the end for lots of clever lines buried in the background.
      Rating: 7

How To Get Your Work Reviewed

To have your album (2 or more tracks) reviewed by RARB, please email us with your name, group name and album title. You will receive a response with information on how to register your album in our system.

To have your digital single reviewed by RARB, please fill out our online singles registration form.

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