Another year, another Andrew W.K. release… No, wait. It’s been a whopping twelve years since Close Calls With Brick Walls (and, yes, I know 55 Cadillac dropped in 2009, but it’s not exactly a party rock album). I guess it’s a busy life being a one-man party machine. And given that 2001’s I Get Wet still has plenty of legs, was there ever any need to follow it up?
While that seminal album received as much criticism as it did praise, it stamped its mark on the rock stage with its completely mental, hell-bent on living life to the full, pedal-to-the-floor speed and volume. Nothing AWK has released since has come close to recapturing that, but he doesn’t release much and like everyone else he matures and plays with various influences.
You’re Not Alone has a theme. And that theme isn’t just “Party Til You Puke”. It’s “Party regardless of what life throws at you”. It’s a positive thinking album, not a party piece. There’s a lot of crossover in these viewpoints, but with song titles like “Keep On Going”, “Break The Curse”, “Confusion and Clarity” and the titular “You’re Not Alone”, it’s obvious that the message here is much deeper than Andrew had for us back on that first album.
Musically, the album is slower overall than the hyperblast material that AWK is best known for. However, what it lacks in pace (which is present in places), it makes up for in bombasity and grandiosity. Opening number “The Power of Partying” sounds more like the kinds of backing music you’re expect Sabaton to walk out to, for instance – all rousing keys and marching rhythms.
The lyrics follow in this vein, too. “Give Up On You”, for instance:
If you’re feeling pain, if you’re feeling hurt,
If you’re on the floor, we will raise you up,
We will heal your heart, we will show you life
Apologies for any minor inaccuracy – the lyrics aren’t incredibly easy to make out. With a descending twinkling keyboard riff towards the end that could have been culled from Les Miserables and you have the sort of thing to expect on here.
Amongst the music are a couple of spoken word segments, which are definitely from AWK’s positive thinking seminars and you get to thinking that this album follows on from what he’s been doing for the last few years… buoying people up. Behind the “party hard” mentality is the fact that some people find it hard to party for various reasons. This album is for them.
If you live in hope of I Get Wet Part II then this isn’t it – and I don’t think such a beast will ever be released. What we have here is a more mature take on the same principles from a very talented songwriter. I know which songs will go down best on the upcoming tour (yeah, the old stuff), but there are a couple of belters on here which I’m sure will have the audience enraptured as well. “The Devil’s On Your Side” has a good hook and “I Don’t Know Anything” owes a lot to the mighty Status Quo in terms of dance-/bounce-ability. Then there’s “Music Is Worth Living For” which was released a few weeks back. Bangin’. And “Ever Again” ain’t half bad.
You’re Not Alone isn’t adrenaline-fuelled, but it is uplifting and it’s definitely good music, though good music which takes a listen or two to sink in. Andrew W.K. brings the party message to a wider audience.
You’re Not Alone is out on March 2nd