Our music reviews feature three very different albums. You might say that Owl City’s The Midsummer Station is a bit like an anthology, while Havoc and Bright Lights from Alanis Morissette is more of sequel. North, from Matchbox Twenty, is a bit harder to slot—though our reviewer doesn’t see it as a bestseller!
The Midsummer Station, Owl City (Universal Republic)
Adam Young, of the Owl City musical project, has teamed up with a number of producers and songwriters on his latest studio album, The Midnight Station. The result is a continuation of his carefree and catchy melodies along with a deeper, more diverse sound that listeners haven’t heard from him before. Take the smash hit “Good Time” with Carly Rae Jepsen, or the irresistible “Shooting Star,” and you’re on a giddy summery high. But a more contemporary club theme is featured on tracks like “I’m Coming After You” and “Speed of Love.” For a dynamic rock sound, check out “Dementia,” featuring blink 182’s Mark Hoppus. Owl City also reveals a more vulnerable side on tracks like “Silhouette” and “Take It All Away,” where Young sings about his own pain and loss while trying desperately to not completely fall apart. The Midsummer Station is a great attempt by Owl City to continue what it does best, while also stepping out of its comfort zone. It’ll be interesting to see what comes next.—James M., grade 10, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Havoc and Bright Lights, Alanis Morissette (Collective Sounds)
Havoc and Bright Lights is Morissette’s eighth studio album, and it reveals her in a different light. Marriage and motherhood have mellowed the singer/songwriter and her new position in life is reflected in her lyrics. As the lead singer on “Guardian,” she conveys this contentment, speaks of wardens, keepers, and images of being a caregiver and a protector. Gone are the angst and resentment of rejection; instead Morissette sings about the positive changes in her life now that she’s in a happier place. That doesn’t mean that the old Morissette is missing. Far from it. Her lyrics are unapologetic and assertive. She’s also not ashamed to put her true self out there, fight for her beliefs, and admit her shortcomings. Morissette always has a lot to say and a distinctive way to get her message across. Maybe that’s why after all this time, she still makes great music. Tracks to check out include “Havoc and Bright Lights,” “Til You,” “Celebrity,” “Edge of Evolution,” and “Woman Down.”—Geena G., grade 10, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
North, Matchbox Twenty (Atlantic/Emblem)
North is Matchbox Twenty’s first album in 10 years and it’s hard to figure out what sound the band is going for. The opening track “Parade,” as well as others like “She’s So Mean,” “Overjoyed,” and “I Will,” capture the Rob Thomas you knew and loved from the ’90s. The heartbroken voice, great acoustics, and drum mixes work well with a fast-paced sound that keeps the excitement coming. But then the band seems to experiment with different styles in an effort to keep up with today’s musical trends. Some work, but most don’t. “Put Your Hands Up” is an attempt at a dance-pop track. “Your Song” and “Like Sugar” try to feel cutting-edge, but instead you get an old sound trying to modernize itself. Matchbox Twenty should stick with what it does best, and North shows that this album isn’t it.—Stephen E., grade 11, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
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