February 26, 2018 Andrew W.K. – You’re Not Alone (Album Review)
If you’re prepared to harness the power of positive partying, Andrew W.K. is back and he has you covered with You’re Not Alone, his first full-length in seven years, which arrives on Friday, March 2, 2018, thanks to Sony Music.
Singer-Songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist Andrew Wilkes-Krier was born in California and raised in Michigan, but he would not get his ‘proper’ start in music until he moved to The Big Apple. His 2001 debut release, I Get Wet, was a smash-success much in thanks to his popular party anthem, “Party Hard.” He would go on to release another six albums – from 2003’s The Wolf to 2010’s Mother of Mankind – over the next nine years of his career. Along with recording, Andrew would pour his heart and soul out in his live performances, leading to sharing stages with the likes of Foo Fighters, stints on Ozzfest and Warped Tour, and a slot on the soundtrack for 2002’s Jackass: The Movie.
Throughout his diverse career, Andrew W.K. has met with opposition, legal disputes, and, of course, critics, and yet he has always maintained a positive outlook. Perhaps this is what inspired some of his non-musical ventures, including a stint of motivational speaking engagements at such elite locales as Yale University, Carnegie Mellon University, and New York University, amongst many others. He would go on to perform a one-man-show; be featured in The New York Times Arts section; be a featured guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien; grace the pages of Time Magazine and Rolling Stone; appear at, of all places, a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan convention; guest lecture at Oxford Union; author several different advice columns; publish a book, The Party Bible; and, ultimately, be referred to as one of “Rock-n-Roll’s great philosophers.” So really, what more is there for Andrew W.K.?
While it might not be a new avenue of self-expression, Andrew W.K. is returning to his ‘roots’ with his eighth full-length studio offering, You’re Not Alone, his first full-length release in the past eight years and first musical offering in seven years. The sixteen-track collection breaks down like this: 2 instrumentals, 3 Spoken Word interludes, and 11 rocking sonic parties. Yes, it is indeed true: this self-produced spectacle is exactly what the doctor ordered!
You’re Not Alone kicks off to the instrumental extravaganza of “The Power of Partying,” an electronic aperitif to set the mood. It paves the way for the all-too-true anthem “Music Is Worth Living For,” where Andrew’s gritty vocals (and some falsetto notes) are set to scaling keyboards and chugging guitars. The self-affirming promise that change is possible, “Ever Again” steps the sound up to a massive theatricality, a positive march in the name of self-awareness.
On “I Don’t Know Anything,” there is a delicious old-school Punk vibe that will harken fans back to “Party Hard” and the days of I Get Wet. This moves into the first Spoken Word offering of the collection, the exploration of being human that is “The Feeling of Being Alive.” In truth, Andrew has the perfect smooth texture to his voice for Spoken Word, engaging and enunciating perfectly with a motivating spirit. Like a spastic child, he does not sit still for two seconds and immediately pops back up for the mid-tempo, partying pace of “Party Mindset,” a romp across a sunny beach with a Corona in hand. As if to prove the point, he promises: “I keep a party mindset all year long!”
The fiesta continues with “The Party Never Dies,” which marches happily into “Give Up on You,” which starts off like a Broadway musical number and moves into a nostalgic sound that has echoes of the glitzy geniuses Queen. Changing it up with synth-happy rocker “Keep On Going,” there is a comparative sound here to another experimental genius, Reggie and the Full Effect.
“In Your Darkest Moments” is a Spoken Word reminder that life is a challenge, full of rewards, and the roller-coaster ride should be appreciated for both its ups and downs. This serves as the perfect segue into the triumphant salute of “The Devil’s on Your Side,” an amazingly beautiful musical production that rocks. In fact, if you could cross the theatricality of upbeat Broadway productions like “Kinky Boots” with operatic Classic Rockers such as the aforementioned Queen and modern musical psychos like the also previously mentioned Reggie and the Full Effect, the end result would be absolutely zany, and that is this collection!
The devious stomp of “Break the Curse” goes a bit darker and seeks to discover who put that hex on you and tricked you, then out-foxed Mr. W.K. too. It moves flawlessly into the joyous abandon of “Total Freedom,” which sees Andrew going to the lowest reaches of his vocal register only to then soar into the heavens. Which, in turn, all leads into the beautiful piano work of the gorgeously emotional instrumental “Beyond Oblivion.”
“Life is really worth living” promises the one-minute Spoken Word of “Confusion and Clarity,” before the album culminates in its namesake, “You’re Not Alone.” The positivity and motivational spirit that is echoed throughout the entire collection is baked into this track, a final celebration of our musical journey. Say what you will about the King of Partying Hard, but Andrew W.K. can craft some truly epic musical numbers and he has the never-ending experimentalism and talent to back everything he does; creating delightfully genius, genre-crossing pieces that all blend together wonderfully.
If he had felt so inclined, Andrew W.K. might have entitled his latest “The Power of Positive Partying,” making himself a kind of Norman Vincent Peale for the party people. Though, in this sense, partying is a tame affair that involves keeping life light and upbeat, full of happiness and amazingness and not illicit substances and black lights, no. However, this is digressing from the point at hand: the music. On You’re Not Alone, Andrew W.K. proves that music is worth living for and partying keeps the weight off our shoulders. In this, he presents a matured offering that proves that, despite taking a few years off to party hard solo, Mr. W.K. has not in any way, shape, or form lost his edge. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Andrew W.K.’s You’re Not Alone 5 of 5 stars.