September 10, 2021 Andrew W.K. – God Is Partying (Album Review)
Musicians can become known for so many things beyond their actual music: some artists are noted for their avant-garde fashion sense, vibrantly-colored hair, or love of leafy green substances. Mr. Andrew W.K. is known for his praise of partying and motivational panache, making him something like an Eckhart Tolle for Rock-n-Roll. So we are all rather curious to see what avenues the Buddha of All Things Party will explore next with God Is Partying, which arrives on Friday, September 10, 2021 via Napalm Records.
Is God partying because she heard the album, or is she just a huge Andrew W.K. fan? The answer is quite possibly both. The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist definitely had the fates on his side when he made his debut in 2001 with I Get Wet, a smash success much in thanks to its popular party anthem, “Party Hard.” It was a perfectly choreographed move that unwittingly laid the groundwork for the next 20 years; a time that has witnessed Andrew delivering four additional discs, touring the globe in their support, and, ultimately, taking his party even closer to the people with motivational speaking engagements.
Despite any of his side ventures or Jackass appearances, the musician has spent his career honing his songwriting skills and instrumental abilities, as well as his voice, and the culmination of that work shows on God Is Partying. Taking the helm to co-produce alongside Grammy Award-winning engineer Ted Young (Alice Cooper, Mick Jagger), Andrew performs every instrument on the record and, of course, sings—oftentimes like a songbird. With a streamlined vocal performance, he strips away some of the rough edges, instead turning toward raw emotion for heaviness.
A true labor of passion, the LP breaks down to nine tracks—one of which is an instrumental—with two possible bonus tracks (“I Made It” and “Not Anymore”) floating around on special editions. While this might initially seem abrupt, with several tracks clocking in at over six minutes, God Is Partying is anything but skimpy. In fact, it’s overflowing with forays into the heart of its creator, magically ominous synths, meandering guitar solos, and an authenticity that shows its creator in one of his most forthright hours. And by dusting the grit off his vocals, he taps into a new facet of his ever-evolving musical persona to give us what feels less like listening to an actual deity speak and more like chilling with a close friend.
He does this by offering his listeners ‘a tale of two LPs’: one heavy with ominous rockers that pay homage to Classic Rock/Metal of the ‘80s, while the other turns the spotlight onto a heartfelt storyteller who has left the party early to ruminate on his past. Obviously the rockers are what is typically expected of Andrew, and he delivers by blowing the LP open wide with “Everybody Sins.” Here, what initially sounds like a new Symphonic Rock offering takes its time to chug along, building attitude with biting guitars before the man himself steps in and drops some classic Heavy Metal fire.
This ferocity continues into the annihilating kaleidoscope of gothic sensuality known as “Babalon,” but it will be several tracks before we return to headbanging with the obligatory mosh pit anthem “I’m In Heaven.” Thus, instead of lingering to flail his wild mane some more, Andrew switches it up, going deep with the melancholic “No One To Know” and Synthpop power ballad “Stay True To Your Heart.”
This is where the album’s divide comes in: half of the tracks are rockers meant to keep his listeners partying hard, while their sisters tend toward self-reflection and experimentation. Take, for example, the instrumental “Goddess Partying,” a string-laden interlude ruled by a weeping cello. It provides an intriguing palette cleanser, though it cannot possibly compare to the show-stopping “Remember Your Oath.” Beginning as an acoustic ballad, it is a personal confession that builds into a powerful, Folk-inspired storytelling moment for the multi-talented musician.
An exceptional song, it pairs beautifully with “My Tower.” At nearly six-and-a-half minutes, this track nods respectfully at John Carpenter’s 1980s Moog work, creating a cinematic feel that juxtaposes brilliantly with the song’s depth of emotion. But just as it seems to hit its stride and the guitar wails, a moment of experimentation rewrites the script abruptly. This leaves the artist to end the 9-track version of the LP with the double entendres of “And Then We Blew Apart.”
Certainly the positivity of You’re Not Alone is cast aside to acknowledge more harsh realities on its successor, thereby allowing God Is Partying to reflect the confused headspace many of us have occupied for the past 18 months. This is where the LP finds its strength: in raw emotional vulnerability. On his newest release, the God of Partying turns his focus inward to pick apart the diverse pieces of his own mind and heart, creating a time capsule of who Andrew W.K. is in 2021.
In this, the album maintains the feel of a therapeutic trip inside its creator’s mind. A creative catharsis that was a necessary step in this artist’s evolution, it allows the artist to work his way through varying personal hurdles in order to free himself from the chains of the past—so that he may reclaim his ability to party with renewed purpose. This ability to find solace among the noise is why Andrew W.K. is the teacher and we are all just merely pupils of partying. For all of the above and more, Cryptic Rock gives God Is Partying 4.5 of 5 stars.