The Vampire Diaries. That’s the title of the latest in the slew of vampire-related media flooding our society today. While I’ve never seen the show (and quite honestly, never intend on watching it either) I’ve still reveled in my own share of the latest craze. Yes, I have seen the Twilight movies (with large groups of friends, if that helps redeem myself). And yes, I am an avid fan of True Blood on Showtime (despite the less-than-stellar third season). The most exposure I’ve had to Vampire Diaries, though, is the album lying on my desk at this precise moment, which frankly isn’t half bad.
It starts out with a haunting tune entitled “Stephan’s Theme”—written by Michael Suby—which is the typical broody music you’d expect from a teen vampire flick. The next song, by British alternative band Placebo, is a quite slow but enjoyable listen. It has some interesting electronics and piano chords throughout, and lead singer Brian Malko has a unique voice, which suits the song well. Silversun Pickups suits their name well by speeding it up ever so slightly with “Currency of Love,” featuring intense guitars contrasted well by the mellow vocals. “Hammock” is a bit of a funky tune that echoes of “Eye of the Tiger” in some parts, and of Southern gospel in others. Smashing Pumpkins make an appearance on the CD with “The Fellowship,” that has the anarchistic cries of Green Day with the mixed electronica of Ratatat. And while Bat for Lashes has a distinctive voice, her shrieking out the chorus of “Sleep Alone” made me switch the song before it even finished. The remix of “Bloodstream” by Stateless is a beautiful song. It features some very depressing lyrics about love and loneliness, with bits like “And the silence surrounds you/and hunts you/I think I might’ve inhaled you.” As weird as it sounds, it is definitely at the top of my list for songs to listen to next time I’m in a bad mood. “We Radiate” by Goldfrapp reminds me of a version of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” sung by Little Boots. It radiates that same 70’s discothèque vibe but with a more alternative sound. “Obsession” sounds the most radio-ready song on the entire album, as if it was written with Katy Perry in mind. It’s not a terrible song, but definitely throws off the mellow, alternative vibe the whole record has going on. Digital Daggers put us back in the mood with the gloomy “Head Over Heels,” which could be a bit boring had it not been for Andrea Wasse’s bubble-gum vocals. “Down” is an awesome song, although I feel like it was ripped off the A Walk To Remember album. It has a really catchy chorus despite the slow nature of the song, and Jason Walker’s voice meshes perfectly with the airy lightness of the female singer (that Google didn’t help me find the name of). Mads Langer sings my favorite song of the album, “Beauty of the Dark.” Again, another broody melody, but with an almost uplifting chorus that I think perfectly captures the essence of the CD as a whole. “Cut” was kind of a stupid song, but Plumb’s voice is out of the ballpark on this one. The lyrics leave quite a bit to be desired, and I was ready to switch the song, but then Plumb’s voice soared and my jaw dropped. Definitely worth a listen just to hear her, she has one set of pipes. “All You Wanted” is a good song, but brings to mind the Academy Award-winning song “Falling Slowly” except way too amped up with guitars. It would’ve served the vocalists and lyrics much better if the band didn’t drown out their pleasant voices with drums and hokey back-up vocals. Finally, Gorillaz concludes the CD with the fairly catchy but all together forgettable “On Melancholy Hill—starts out well, but gets pretty tiring for the ears after about the first 2 minutes.
Overall, I thought this was a solid album. Kind of like the previous Twilight albums, it has a few standout songs (“Supermassive Black Hole” on the first one, or “Chop and Change” on the third one). On the most part, though, the songs generally sound the same, which I think serves such a record just fine. It’s all kind of moody alternative rock for the frustrated, hipster teen-set, but at least it’s quality. Although this won’t be the next Lazerbeak album where I play it over and over, it’s a great album to mellow out with and chill.