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Humanoid Musings

October 7, 2009

Listening to Humanoid for the first time Monday night, as the songs downloaded on itunes, it struck me that this is the album I was waiting for. Obviously, I’m a fan – I’ve been anticipating it for many months as it was in the process of being made. But in a bigger way, this brings a feel and an energy in mainstream music – especially on the rock side – that has been often oppressed by the  rock-snob idea that Rock should not be showy; that, to be credible, it should not be slickly produced, and certainly should not play with themes suited for comic books and cult movies. Groups have fought this line of thinking for years since it took over in the early ’90s, and some – from The Smashing Pumpkins to My Chemical Romance, and to a lesser extent the bombastic Coheed & Cambria, have done very well ignoring it. But we’re a long way from the diversity of early ’80s pop music, where rock and pop were allowed to openly co-exist and synthesizers and big hair weren’t discredited. Granted, the great Duran Duran may have been looked down on by rock snobs in their own time, just as Tokio Hotel often are today. But everything that the imported ’80s “New Wave” brought to the rock table back then is exactly what we’ve been needing for some time – but different. New.

I knew Tokio Hotel could do it – though, funny, I had no reason to think that they would incorporate electro-rock into their next album when I became a fan. It’s more than that, though. Tokio Hotel has what we’ve been missing. Look at fake anti-corporate US “Rock Alternative” radio. Nothing is more vanilla. Top 40 has its moments, but it needs more. The ’00s has been a music decade looking for its way. There has been a lot of great music, but too much of it (from I Get Wet to Music From Regions Beyond to Invincible) grossly underrated. The ’10s, which, as far as music eras go, are beginning, promise a return of ostentatiousness, of the otherworldish taking center stage, of diversity in rock that extends beyond the English language and American culture. Lo-fi pretentiousness can stand to be uncool for a while.

Humanoid, to me, is all that I want the ’10s to be.

That’s not to say that it’s a flawless album. With a bit of nipping and tucking as far as the tracklisting and choices of bonus songs, it could be perfect – the European versions, which have a slightly different order to the songs (meaning different songs are and are not put into the Bonus section) are closer to getting it spot-on right.

Tracks 1-8 flow wonderfully – these are without a doubt the strongest songs: “Noise,” “Darkside of the Sun,” “Automatic,” “World Behind My Wall,” “Humanoid,” “Forever Now,” “Pain of Love,” and “Dogs Unleashed.” The aural experience of these songs and the way they were placed is amazing. It’s hard to even pick standouts (though I am pretty much hopelessly addicted to “Darkside” by itself). These, plus “Phantomrider,” “Alien,” (both US bonus tracks) and “Zoom” (in that order) would have made a pretty flawless album.

Things hit a wall on the US version, however, as three songs co-written and produced by The Matrix are dropped in somewhat awkwardly. You may know that The Matrix at one point were interviewed as major players on this record, reportedly producing at least eight tracks. On the European album, only one made the Standard album. On the US version, the superior “Phantomrider” and “Alien” were demoted to bonus tracks, while Matrix tracks “Hey You” and “Love and Death” were placed on the standard. This does make the US Standard weaker. I had high hopes for The Matrix collaboration, but it doesn’t seem they really grasped Tokio Hotel, so much as they tried to mold them into a generic alt-rock group – a nightmare scenario. While Guy Chambers and Desmond Child seamlessly contributed to other tracks, The Matrix tracks have problems, from the over derivative, cautiously racy “Human Connect to Human” (the German version, with lyrics pondering in wonder that soul mates ever manage to find each other, works much better) to the also derivitave, sports arena anthem “Hey You” (which for some awesome reason has sci-fi lyrics in German). “Love and Death” works the best — I won’t even comment on the English-only bonus tracks “That Day” and “Screamin’.”  These songs feel set apart – and looking at the liners, you can see that, unlike the rest of the album, these were songs that didn’t have the Kaulitz brothers’ hands in them as co-producers. This is not the case for the Chambers and Child collabs.

The Standard album ends with “Zoom into Me,” a piano and vocal ballad that brings everything back to where it should be.

It’s almost as if there was a Mutiny – maybe sometime last spring, when the album was announced to be delayed and Cherrytree explained repeatedly over the course of several weeks that Bill and Tom had come up with new songs, one of which we now know is “Automatic,” they decided to take more control. In any event, it was definitely worth the delay.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2009 3:34 pm

    Great text, harlequinn.

  2. nonamecomestomind permalink
    October 8, 2009 5:04 am

    Thanks for this harlequinn!!!

  3. Raomina permalink
    October 8, 2009 12:20 pm

    Excellent and comprehensive review!

  4. TokioHotelChick permalink
    October 8, 2009 2:59 pm

    Thanks for the review!It was very detailed and gave me a good insight on the album.:D

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