The world coincidently provided me with a couple of musical birthday presents: Third Eye Blind’s new effort, Ursa Major came out for my birthday (a day earlier than was announced…), and Electric Valentine’s first full length Automatic the next day.
On first listen Ursa Major is… kind of disappointing. It’s not BAD; understand I’ve loved 3eb as long as I’ve been listening to music; the first album I bought when I got my first portable CD player in middle school was Blue, and they have been a standby for me ever since. All of their albums have had something that really moved me: The selftitle was cut with crystallized adolescent angst, Blue was the sound of a burgeoning broadening and discovery of the world, Out of the Vein was pure passion… and in comparison Ursa Major just sounds kind of douchey and self involved. The music itself also seems a little less sophisticated, or at least less polished (they called it “more acoustic” but it’s more than that), especially in the meter of the lyrics. Judged against rock albums in general it really is a good album, but it doesn’t seem quite up to their previous efforts. Maybe it’ll grow on me.
As for Automatic… real bands don’t only release on iTunes. I don’t want AACs, I can’t install iTunes on my (Linux) machine, and I wouldn’t install Apple’s memory-eating crapware even if it were an option. Their previous releases are all on Amazon, this should be too. That said, I ordered a physical copy, and already have a digital copy (I’m not 100% sure the tracks on said copy are the album versions, some of it sounds a little lo-fi). Purchasing complaints aside, its wildly catchy electropop, with rich instrumentation, dark lyrics and adorable delivery. The album sounds a little less energetic than their earlier EP, but it still has that infectious quality that makes me keep catching myself dancing to it. I found their previous project (A Kiss Could Be Deadly) more compelling than Electric Valentine, but it really is great stuff and deserves all the attention it can get, and I’ll be listening to it for some time to come.