40’s Insights – New Clear Days

Preconceived Notions: I’ve heard exactly one Vapors song in my life.  It’s the same one you’ve heard, if you’ve only heard of one. I like it, part of my 80’s nostalgia collection….fast and funny, but I never thought to follow up on it any.  So let’s check it out.

After Listening: Well pop punk/new wave/brit rock (?) is not normally one of my favorite genres as often relishes in repetitive musical constructs.  But I think what I noticed 1st and foremost on this album is the sense of fun they are having with it.  Nobody needs preachy punk afterall, and these guys do a largely good job of avoiding that pitfall.  Musically this is achieved most prominently through an energetic and fairly poppy bassline.  The basslines keep the songs framed in a sort of light context, even when the lyrics so often drift into darker topics.   The juxtaposition of the lyrics against the music is a well formed attack – smooth enough that even when the topics tough the edge of dementia, you can hum along and pretty much miss their depth as if they don’t exist. The more interesting elements of the album are when the pieces slow down and attempt to interject something outside the formula…a clever drum fill here, a cimbalom, or a multivoiced chorus. These elements don’t happen quiet often enough to make this a must have album for me though.  Somehow the songs are tight without any overwhelming sense of urgency, so that they also breathe, making them catchy.  Unfortunately b/c of this, many of the songs do seem to blend together and are easily forgettable after they’re over.

Favorite Tracks:  “Turning Japanese” – Putting the nostalgia factor behind me for a moment, how can anyone not love a song about masturbation disguising itself as a vaguely racist assault? Oh yeah then there are the musical aspects…strong rhythms, catchy chorus, oriental stereotypical insult, and that breakdown segment, which keeps it from getting stale.  As good now as it ever was.
“Letter to Hiro”  – Maybe it’s the weebo in me, or maybe it’s just that this song was different enough to stand out. A sort of sad mood is evoked in an almost too sweet manner, but it gives the album a feel of reflection that it needed.  Sure I geek out over the Japanese instrumentation – but I don’t think anyone would deny it’s a nice addition to the standard arrangements on most of the other songs.  Oddly enough, it’s this instrumentation and overall progression of the song that makes it feel most like an 80’s song to me.  At the end I even hear echoes of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gyspy” in the arpeggiated notes….eh I can forgive it.
“Bunkers” – The guitar that sort of phases in and out of this on the beginning verses is interesting, and then the single note clean riff that interacts with the actual lyrical choruses cements the song as being legitimately catchy.  The accompaniment on the vocals towards the end of the 3rd verse is expertly done and is a nice tone color.

Least Favorite:  “America” – just too generic musically, and nothing interesting lyrically.  Like many of the other songs here, I can’t muster up strong emotions about it…but of those that seem to fade, this one seemed to last the longest in my mind as the one without any real bite.

Overall 3.8 This is a solid little record that probably demands some future listening.  At times they blend together enough elements to make a fun poppy song, even better….then at other times the songs just seem to fade away in slave fashion to a template of the genre.  Still I’ll same I’m impressed by the songs I do like…the music on this is solid & catchy, the vocals are a perfect tone color for the backing…and of course the lyrics bury some insanity nugget at the center of the candy like coatings.   A foot tapper at points that makes me wish these guys were more prolific as they seemed to have room to grow.

40 (45 Posts)

40 has had training enough in classical theory to know roughly what he's talking about. As for talent, he considers himself a crappy guitar player. He has a BA in Audio & Sound Recording BA, so not only does music creation intrigue him, but also music production. He believes that expression takes all forms, and it has to be remembered that music is an art form and is ultimately about connection, communication, experimentation, creativity, freedom, emotion, and 100’s of other things.

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