album review: “sound the alarm”- howie day

sound the alarm- howie day : B-

it’s been 6 years since stop all the world now, and 5 since “collide” hit the radio. as a fan since the australia days, you can only imagine my excitement for sound the alarm.

when howie  came through austin in april, i got to hear a few of the new songs, and let it be known that i wasn’t impressed. it sounded like he was straying even further from what he does best– pedals. he’s a guy that thrives without a backing band, and this new album is really orchestral. i’m kind of starting to face the fact that howie day’s greatest gift will now only be seen during his live shows and not through his studio releases.

the cd starts off strong with “so stung,” which is a great combination of the elements from australia and stop all the world now. i don’t know that its positional placement really does it justice, but it’s arguably one of the album’s bests. the first single, “be there,” is decent, but in no way compares to the monster that was “collide”; in fact, the only track on this album that has a (long) shot is “undressed.” “everyone loves to love a lie” and “no longer what you require” are clever, original ideas but lack the melodies to make them solid songs.

sound the alarm is more piano heavy than anything else howie has done in the past; it’ll be interesting how these songs are performed on tour.”postcards from mars“….i dont even know where that song came from. tell you what, though. one of the piano dominated songs, “sound the alarm,” is my favorite. so much brutal honesty there. it makes sense that it’s the title track because it’s the best indicator of what he’s been through the past few years.

a valiant effort from someone who has been surrounded by controversy since his last release, which, lets be honest, was a huge success. i think when you’re trying to recover from “scandal” (rehab), you have to win back the hearts of your audience. i think that’s what he was trying to do with this album. play it safe and slowly bounce back. this may explain some of the cheesey and overrhymed bits of this album. there’s even one song that could have been written by lifehouse, i swear.

i have hope that howie day’s next release re-affirm his title as one of the most talented and innovative musicians of our day. if australia was an A+ (which it was, all you haters), and stop all the world now was a solid B, then i’d have to say that sound the alarm is a B-. nothing revolutionary, yet it doesn’t disappoint. just something to tide us over until the next album.


~ by CJL on September 17, 2009.

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