One of my best friends recommended this album to me, and at first I genuinely struggled to find the words to say in this review after listening to it. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, in fact I loved this album. But I couldn’t find the words to describe it in the least. At least, until I realized, that in itself, is a descriptor. This album is truly indescribable. Nonetheless, lets see if I can manage to put some of it into words.
It could easily be made into a musical, not just because of its showtune-rock-mash sound, but because it follows a storyline. Vampires in suburbia. But also because its just genuinely entertaining to listen to. It keeps you engaged the entire time, I found myself excited to hear the next line, there are many moments in the album where you think a song is going in a specific way, and then it suddenly changes, and yes it can be jarring, but not in a bad way, at least not to me. If you’ve ever listened to Mariana’s Trench outside of their radio played music, they do a similar thing at times. I believe Panic at the disco! does as well.
But comparing Will to any band is a disservice to both him and whichever band. This album is something new entirely, at least to me it is. Perhaps you will have something in your music library similar to this, but I do not. Which is precisely why I love it. It’s new and refreshing, but still pulls on familiar musical themes. Such as old 50s crooners, while still managing to add in heavy rock themes as well.
The theme of the album seems to be vampires in suburbia. Ultimately however it seems to be a critique on what one might call ‘the American dream’ and suburbs are a perfect metaphor for it. After all, the suburbs is the ultimate of the American dream. A perfect little nuclear family, with a perfect little house and neighborhood and friends and neighbors.
The very first song criticizes this, and how something may seem perfect on the surface, but really has a much darker underbelly. The thing about suburbs, that many agree upon, is that they are often overwhelmingly fake. Fake smiles, fake friends. Fake everything. Will calls attention to this with lines such as;
“It takes a village to fake a whole culture.”
and the darkness lying beneath the fakeness is prevalent in every line.
“I can tell you that know where paradise is, where parasites don’t care what your blood type is.”
And really, the entirety of the song to be perfectly honest. The first song alone is an incredible critique of the idea of human perfection. If the suburbs seem perfect, its because the people in them are trying so hard to make it seem so. But in actuality there is a deep emptiness inside. Which often results in affairs, drug addiction, and more.
One could also easily argue that this has nothing to do with a critique of the American dream and is instead a metaphor for mental illness. The desire to keep up a perfect front while everything inside of you crashes and burns. Any way you slice it this album is up for immense and thoughtful interpretation. You could listen to it again and again and still not feel like you’ve gotten everything from it.
Well, Better Than The Alternative seems to somewhat support this theory. The song seems to be about a man who has a daughter who he knows is going to be like him, but he doesn’t want that, because he doesn’t even want to be himself. The song then seems to descend into a discussion of his mental state and his desire to be told that in spite of what ever is wrong with him he’s still ‘pretty’ (which I must say is quite the reminder of the Autodale series I reviewed just recently).
Love Me Normally also seems to have themes of being an outlier with a desperate wish to be normal.
From Suburbia overture, to Well, Better Than The Alternative, to Love Me Normally, to Memento Mori, this entire album is a chaotic wild ride, and its genuinely just fun. It’s a fun and interesting listen, however it also explores great darkness, right down to acknowledging that one day we are all going to die. But that never dampens the greatness of this album, its far from a downer. Instead these topics seem to heighten the album all the more. It’s real, and its passionate. I genuinely can’t recommend it enough.
I’ll leave the rest for you dear readers, this album is an experience. And there is little I can do to tell you exactly what that experience will be, so please go on and listen.
Memento Mori, this is Rev signing off.