Skitzo Calypso enticed me. I had seen them open at a show I recently attended and found their tenacity, especially that of their lead singer, to be appealing. Though he was faced with a lukewarm audience, he performed with all the energy he possessed. Returning home, I investigated their music more and discovered a treasure trove of great songs, as well as the knowledge of a solo project by that tenacious frontman, Brad Cox. We Love The Underground is his vision, which combines various musical styles into songs that are not only interesting, but catchy as well! I've let the album grow on me over the last two weeks and I'm thrilled to share with you what I've found.
In a pre-release statement, Cox said that the album title refers to how media and marketing infiltrate our day-to-day lives. “It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of time to synthesize down our true emotions and thoughts,” he said, “without being interrupted with false ideologies, hope, agenda, propaganda and group think. The way our society is constructed doesn’t allow for a lot of soul searching, which is what I wanted to do on this record.” The album artwork does a wonderful job of tapping into this idea, displaying a present-day interpretation of Lady Liberty transformed from a symbol of freedom to an over-privileged teenager, neglectful of her people, standing on a modern foundation of gossip and materialism. As vivid as this statement is, and as much as I agree with the sentiment, the music is why we're really here. And for good reason!
The Day The Devil Fooled The World is packed to the brim with track after track that pulls you in and refuses to let go. While admittedly, I found the opener, “Afire”, to fall short of greatness, the rest of the album makes up for it in spades. The album takes off in a splendid way with the second track, “The Sharper Your Love”. Starting off small, it grows to epic proportions through the use of orchestral strings and scratch guitar, swelling into a brilliant chorus and beautiful solo. No song faulters from here to the end, though the style adjusts to the mood. Soon we find ourselves listening to a pop-induced, upbeat tune entitled, “Back To The Cold War”, which could have found a home just as easily on The Darkness' second album. Later on the record, we encounter “Let No Hand Hold Us Down”, a truly empowering powerhouse that fills you with energy and gets your fist slamming against imaginary doors in the air. “The Ties” takes us to the other end of the spectrum, plummeting us to the depths of hopelessness and tragedy, as Cox sings about the lost relationship between himself and his mother. And I can't forget to mention the closing self-titled track, where we're greeted by horns, an electro-funk bass drum, as well as stunning classical Spanish-laced guitar solos. When he starts singing like Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose...well, a listener might not know what to do with themselves!
Brad Cox has a talent for writing great songs. I've been listening to his collaborations with others, as well as his solo project for a few weeks now, and on only a few occasions am I not as awed by the result. But not only is he a great songwriter, but he's a fine musician as well. After seeing Skitzo Calypso, I assumed that he was mainly a rhythm guitar player, which he may be. But here we find several moments of great fretboard finesse, not the least of which is the solo for “The Sharper Your Love”, which is melodically tasteful, but blisteringly fast. However, his main instrument is his voice, which he uses to great effect. I don't know where he grew up, but he possesses an accent that carries into his singing, and I constantly get the feeling that he's British. But what's important about him isn't his accent, but the way he sings. Whether he aims to empower or lament, his voice is filled with energy, as though he's tearing away pieces of himself and handing them out to the listener. The Day The Devil Fooled The World is a jigsaw puzzle of Cox's soul that he's laid out for all to see, and when we take a step back we can see the beauty and tragedy that has colored it.
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