By Adrian Woods, Contributor
Key tracks: “Tin Man Love”, “The Last Dance”
St Paul & The Broken Bones are back with their fourth studio album release, Alien Coast. Listening to their past records, this one felt like a drop in quality for the group. If anticipating another retro-dance R&B record, this album falls flat and feels like just another generic, modern day R&B album.
While their past records had a bit of a retro feel to it, this album feels completely modern, which, while some may feel that stepping away from the sound is a step in the right direction, it was something of a hallmark for the group, so changing it now feels a bit confusing. The band tries going experimental with this album, and while it works sometimes, it only works because it has that somewhat older feel that their early albums have on them. When it fails to work, it comes off as uninteresting.
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Reading this review, it may seem like this album is unlistenable, but that is actually far from the truth. The track “Tin Man Love” is the most retro sounding song on the album, and not surprisingly is one of the best songs on the album because of it. Another song, “The Last Dance” does grab your attention with its futuristic sound and slick, smooth bass line. Besides a few gems here and there, this album is riddled with small problems – not problems that completely ruin the album, but problems that could have been easily modified or fixed to produce a more holistic listening experience.
There is, however, a concept on this album that is quite interesting. It has to do with the after life and an apocalyptic future, and while when it works on songs like “3000 AD Mass”, it seems like it’s not fully fledged out as it probably should be to be maximally impactful. While listening through this album, nothing really grabbed my attention. This doesn’t help with the lack of interesting songwriting and the very hit and miss instrumental. Sometimes, the songs have this very poppy, futuristic sound like said before on the song “The Last Dance,” but then sometimes the instrumental just sounds like an unmotivated and common R&B album.
Overall, I find this St. Paul & The Broken Bones album to be extremely lacking in … something, other than being just an average R&B/soul album. Even its bright spots can’t save it from being as normal as I find it. It’s not to say this album is terrible – it’s not, it’s totally listenable, but it’s just a major disappointment of how much better this album could have been because of the band’s past works.