August 14, 2018 Blue October – I Hope You’re Happy (Album Review)
Despite the band’s stormier days, Blue October is back better than ever with their upcoming release, I Hope You’re Happy. The Texas quartet – composed of Matt Noveskey, Ryan Delahoussaye, and Jeremy and Justin Furstenfeld – have reached a pivotal point in their career. The new record, set to release August 17th via Up/Down / Brando Records, displays a positive and genuine side of the band. Coming out on the other side with a record produced by Frontman Justin Furstenfeld, Blue October is ready to share with the world that being happy is their main focus for both their listeners and themselves.
The 12-track playlist takes off to a haunting beginning as eerie keys transform into a winding sound that sounds like a VCR fast-forwarding; snippets of different elements seep into the winding until blasts of snare drums bring all the elements back in focus. Justin’s vocals ease in against an enhanced raindrop noise with whisper-like, layered vocals, adding to the creepiness effect. The opening track builds intensity as the chorus comes in powerfully, scratching the surface of personal demons in an honest yet non-confrontational way that sets the tone for the entire album.
Next, “Your Love Is Like A Car Crash” sets a soft and dreamy tone, like a track one would hear in a romance film. The pace is slowed down from the previous song, with toned down keys and synths. Vocals are somewhat isolated at this point for the next minute and a half until snare drums strike in, adding a steady mid-tempo beat to the track’s lull. By the second verse, Justin’s vocals have gained passion and character where honest lyrics continue. Synths flutter like a radio transmission skipping frequency before the full band joins in for the last chorus, gaining texture and contrast for a solid finish.
“I Want To Come Back Home” holds a grand, cinematic entrance of violin and keys, coming and going like ocean waves. Half a minute in, the pace picks up with echoing filler vocals, sweet guitar, and a steady and radi- friendly Pop/Rock beat. The song proves a brutal and gutsy confession of faults, and the vulnerability is striking; the messenger is seeking some sort of forgiveness for being a “monster,” standing in a pool of the aftermath of self-destruction.
Whether it be the same destruction that inspired this next track or other courses of events, “I’ll Do Me, You Do You” shows the better man in the situation of recognizing toxicity and the importance of removing self from said situation without any foul feelings. It’s a cut-and-dry track, lyrically, but the most impressive thing is how the band created a gentle way to paint the ease of letting go. Groovy bass starts the track with a thumping texture and Jazz-like drum taps are kept light yet steady. The anthem of strength strikes as a personal favorite, as confidence and total self-belief is emitted.
There are a few tracks that hold an ’80’s vibe, which are a surprise. Title track “I Hope You’re Happy” is synth strong in the beginning, mimicking a dance tune that could be seen on a movie soundtrack. What could be at first conceived as negative and sarcastic connotation is surprisingly a “good luck” send off track. The personality of the song shines as an exuberant sing-along for live shows. Another nostalgic piece is “How To Dance In Time.” The ballad starts off at a slower pace than the title-track, however, it pairs better for the focus of heartbreak.
A pleasant surprise, and the heaviest track on the album, is “Colors Collide.” Heavy bass surrounds a vivid heartbeat before an alarming noise takes place, as hollow yet sharp drums resembling the sound of Metallica’s “St. Anger” set the aggressive tone. Justin’s voice takes to slight auto tune that turns into a robotic effect for the track that could be twisted as political. A significant change of pace follows for “Remission in Cmaj,” where an instrumental of weighted keys on an antique piano mesmerizes the listener. The sound is so clean and pure, it’s as if someone is playing the grand piano directly next to the listener.
The second half of the album continues the theme of vulnerability and staying true to all deep thoughts and feelings. “King” is another personal favorite that will make the listener want to hold his/her lover close and not let go. “Let Forever Mean Forever” is brought full circle, continuing lyrically from the previous track. Here, acoustic guitar plucks away to a foot tappin’ beat. The sweet and tender ballad aims to keep love simple and unconditional as “the truest words I’ll ever say is that I’ll love you until my dying day.”
There are a few other honorable mentions such as “All That We Are” and final track “Further Dive.” Ultimately, this album is the soundtrack to every lost soul’s heart and mind, gripping onto true and genuine emotions such as heartbreak and finding love again. Blue October continue to stick to their dynamic sound paired with lyrics that have kept them in the limelight all these years; and the combination and diversity of structure, composition and humanity is guaranteed to resonate with any listener, veteran or new fan. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Blue October’s I Hope You’re Happy 5 out of 5 stars.