Bareilles and Goo Goo Dolls do it again
Sara Bareilles — *Kaleidoscope Heart*
Maybe Bareilles wasn’t anticipating fame, but she sure got it when her debut single “Love Song” hit radio stations nationwide back in 2007. Since then, she’s been preparing her sophomore major-label album, the recently released Kaleidoscope Heart. Bareilles is a master of catchy piano pop, but she’s got the ballads down too.
“Kaleidoscope Heart” is a minute-long angelic intro song, and it leaves you waiting for the gospel choir to burst into song. After the heavenly solo, Bareilles sings a familiar sound in “Unchartered,” featuring a commanding piano beat accompanied by playful string plucking in the vein of her previous “Love Song.” Her vocal range undulates throughout, which keeps listeners’ ears perking.
Starting off with old-fashioned circus theme music before a finger-snapping, toe-tapping piano beat comes in, “Gonna Get Over You” definitely gets you interested early on. Her verse deliveries flow so naturally, it’s hard not to go along with her for the ride.
“Hold My Heart” begins with a musically dramatic tone, but the chorus comes through like a sunbeam bursting through the clouds, resonating happiness. Near the end of the song, Bareilles really hits some strong notes and just soars vocally.
“King of Anything” seems to be a perfect pop song. It’s smart, it’s got some sarcasm, and it’s ridiculously catchy. The background instrumentation just grabs you and doesn’t let go for three and a half minutes. “Say You’re Sorry” seems to pull back the reins after the previous electrically charged songs. The song sounds like the soundtrack to a bike ride along the Santa Monica coast: light and sunny while still delivering.
“The Light” is another toned-down ballad, but one that’s not terribly slow. It’s got a recurring drumbeat between portions of just Bareilles’ vocals: “You were the air in my breath, filling up my love-soaked lungs, such a beautiful mess, intertwined and overrun.” In short, it’s a good intermission for the CD. “Basket Case” is a Norah Jones-esque, stripped down, bare-bones song that focuses more on the words than on sound production.
“Let the Rain” is a start-off-slow, pick-up-the-pace song. And then comes the chorus, sounding organic and nature-friendly with quick clapping and Bareilles crooning, “I want to let the rain come down, make a brand new ground.” “Machine Gun” has a charming piano intro with verses that swing to and fro, talking about someone who fights just to fight. The chorus changes pace a bit, and Bareilles belts out some notes that come as welcome surprises.
“Not Alone” is about as jazzy as music can get without a saxophone. The low piano chords slightly echo The Pink Panther with a touch of an espionage thriller. This sensual music isn’t what you’d expect with the lyrics, but it’s a welcome change. “Breathe Again” is another one of Bareilles’ slowly crescendoing ballads, as she cries, “All I have, all I need, he’s the air I would kill to breathe” with vocals that are simply beautiful. And finally, “Bluebird” closes the album and lets listeners down gently.
Listen up: “Unchartered,” “Gonna Get Over You,” “Say You’re Sorry”
The verdict: If you’re not ready for an entire album, pick one of her songs and you probably won’t regret listening to it. This girl is not a one-trick pony. Listeners are getting a glimpse into every side of Bareilles with this album.
The Goo Goo Dolls — *Something for the Rest of Us*
It’s hard to believe that the Goo Goo Dolls released their first album way back in 1987. They weren’t much of a household name until the 1998 explosion of their song “Iris” brought them into mainstream music. Since then, they’ve obtained a good amount of consistent success. Their previous album came out back in 2005, so it’s been a while since the Dolls have been in the spotlight. But now, they’re back with a new album, Something for the Rest of Us, and it feels like they never even left.
“Sweetest Lie” is a solid song by the Dolls. It’s got great lyrics that flow poetically against the fortuitous guitars. The next song, “As I Am,” has a strong chorus and speaks of how great it is to find your matching puzzle piece. “Home” is the first single from the album, and it’s got the familiar guitar in the background against lead singer Johnny Rzeznik’s matured rhymes. The chorus is nice, as Rzeznik’s voice treats us to a nice vocal range while singing over his own vocals, begging to be taken back to his place of comfort.
“Notbroken” is a true gem, hiding among the many upbeat tracks on the album. What seems to be a ballad at first listen turns into a powerful anthem of love and the desire to hold on to what you haven’t truly lost. “One Night” is an anthem of spontaneity and living life in the moment. In “Nothing is Real,” Rzeznik sings about going back home to find how things have unfortunately changed. Following that, “Now I Hear,” sung by guitarist Robby Takac, talks of retrospection and regret.
The next tune, “Still Your Song,” is solid throughout. The song is a bit softer than the others, as it starts with a piano and makes use of the strings of an orchestra. The title song, “Something for the Rest of Us,” seems it would fit better as a closer with its drawn-out backing vocals and crescendo of guitars. But at the climax of the song, it dies. It goes back to the calm, adrift-at-sea crooning that seems like it’ll keep repeating until a fadeout. “Say You’re Free” is another of the songs sung by Takac, as he lends his rugged smoker’s voice to this track, definitely altering the flow of the album.
“Hey Ya” starts off soft, and you feel like it might be the theme music of a dream in heaven. But when the bridge and chorus greet us, we get to experience the guitars once again and the crescendo of a steady drumbeat. Verse two comes in, and we’re on a quicker tempo. The song starts off with: “If I could give you all the things you’ve been denied, would it change you, would you feel alive?” and continues with more great lyrics throughout. The closer, “Soldier,” doesn’t really sound like a closer, but the Dolls leave us with a powerful song about a strong person.
Listen Up: “Home,” “Notbroken,” “Hey Ya”
The Verdict: The Goo Goo Dolls have had a great track record, and this album supports that. The songs all sound pretty similar, but they’re great stand-alone tunes if you let them be that.