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Before the Robots

4.6 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 31, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

'Before The Robots' is Better Than Ezra's fifth studio release and their first record in three years. The album features the intensely catchy pop-driven single 'A Lifetime'. Artemis. 2005.


As of May 2005, it's been 10 years since Better than Ezra bounded up the charts with the unsinkable hit "Good," which is just about long enough for modern rock fans--especially the ones who picked up 2001's crummy Closer--to mentally file the band in a "moment has passed" category. With the release of Before the Robots, though, comes the need to reshuffle the played-out deck. The first single, a re-done "Lifetime," effectively rescues a really good story-song from potential oblivion by sending in an un-soupy acoustic guitar and Kevin Griffin's more inspired vocal; "A Southern Thang" tips a straw hat to the Louisiana swamps the band emerged from with a rip-it-up riff; and the aptly titled "Juicy" chugs along a funkified track that veers daringly close to disco. For a threesome on the brink of been-there-done-that, Before the Robots represents a bold but pleasingly poppy rebound. --Tammy La Gorce

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Burned
  2. Daylight
  3. Lifetime
  4. It's Only Natural
  5. Overcome
  6. Special
  7. American Dream
  8. Our Last Night
  9. A Southern Thing
  10. Juicy
  11. Hollow
  12. Our Finest Year
  13. Breathless

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 31, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Indieblue Music
  • ASIN: B0007VF2QO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,134 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By George Dionne VINE VOICE on June 5, 2005
Format: Audio CD
The Good

"Burned" is defined by driving fuzzy riffs and power chord accents. The catchy chorus will have you singing along in no time. I'm not that big a fan of falsetto vocals, but the way that vocalist Kevin Griffin uses them on "Daylight" has caused me to re-evaluate my stance on the matter. He's backed by a keyboard and drum dominant rhythm section. The lyrics to "Lifetime" are quite clever. While it leans toward the subject of lost love, it really focuses on how much a three minute song can mean shared with the right company. Kevin's vocals and his acoustic guitar backing are both seductive as he moves in on his prey on "It's Only Natural". The song's title more that clears up what it's about.

I've said it once and I'll say it again; you can't go wrong with a `whoo-hoo' song. Unfortunately for the characters in "American Dream", things have gone very wrong. I think in some way we can all relate to their issues. "Our Last Night" is a beautiful and emotional power ballad led by melodic vocals, keyboard tones, and clean guitars. The twangy guitar licks of "A Southern Thing" help give it a .38 Special/Lynyrd Skynyrd feel. The vocal delivery is similar to the early 90s pop-rock song "Rock On" (from the movie Dream a Little Dream). Break out your bell-bottoms and platform shoes for "Juicy", because Griffin goes all Bee Gee's on us (I guess the Scissor Sisters for you young'uns). It has a great funk style riff and vocal hook in the chorus.

The Bad


The Verdict

I was never really a fan of Better Than Ezra. I always thought they were another `what was in at the time' band. After listening to Before the Robots, I have seen the light. They proved to me that they are quite versatile and have a knack for writing catchy and well-written rock songs.
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Format: Audio CD
The album starts off with three sing-alongs that BTE is best known for, Burned, Daylight, and A Lifetime. A Lifetime is actually a holdover from their 2001 album, the sadly overlooked Closer. The version on BTR speeds things up a little, and rocks a little more than the original. It also includes the line that has bugged me for a while, "And that R.E.M. song was playing in my mind. Three and half minutes, felt like a lifetime." Looking through my somewhat extensive R.E.M. library, found that Let Me In off of Monster clocks in at 3:28 and At My Most Beautiful off of Up finishes at the 3:35 mark. Monty Got a Raw Deal, The One I Love, and Find the River are all close also and might fit the song. (Keep in mind that A Lifetime ends at 3:26.)

Another BTE trademark is that they take some chances and that is found in Its Only Natural, Special, and Juicy. Juicy is the best, a danceable song that is accompanied by a falsetto voice and a driving bass line that make you realize what a modern Bee-Gee's song might sound like is they listen to Devo or Violent Femmes.

American Dream is the best written song on the album telling the story of a few people that haven't achieved the American Dream yet. In this Red State/Blue State time, the lines, "I'm a little bit rebel, I'm a bit patriot. I can see both sides of the coin" probably describes most of America while our government is littered with fanatics on both side of the fence. A Southern Thang lives up to the bill as a southern rock song being that the band is from New Orleans. The song also takes a little of the melody of the David Essex classic, Rock On, during the chorus. They even namedrop the King of Delta Blues himself, Robert Johnson in the song.
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Format: Audio CD
Better Than Ezra's album picks the band back up from the debacle of a fallen label that affected Closer into having undeserved lack of success..

This album starts out with two of the best back to back songs that I can think of in recent albums with 'Burned' and 'Daylight'. These two are followed by 'A Lifetime' which makes its appearance on the third Ezra album, and fortunately, this version, while less 'raw' is more radio friendly.

It's Only Natural was the only 'fair' song on the album. Followed by 'Overcome', the best BTE ballad since Porcelain. 'American Dream' will most likely be the first 'New' song with radio airplay, and predictably the highest charting song off of this album. Our Last Night, Breathless, and Our Finest Year are three songs with the classic 'Better Than Ezra hook 'em and reel 'em in effect'.

A Southern Thing is one of those songs that you say, 'it's okay', but will be much better live. Juicy stings you like a lemon at first, but with repeated listening, you'll love it. Hollow has been around for awhile in the band's repertoire, and finally has met an album worthy of it.

Overall, you'd be buying 52 minutes with 13 songs, none of which are skippable, unlike many albums where you end up listening to the same track 1 a dozen times and bypassing the rest. This is a complete story.. Better Than Ezra is back
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Format: Audio CD
Old fans and new fans a like can appreciate this album. Being an "Ezralite" from way back when, I can tell you this it is just as good as all the other BTE albums. This album really does have something for everyone, hard rocking beats, slow ballads, trippy fun songs and of course the catchy radio hooks. The new single "A Liftime" apparently was such an important song the boys have breathed new life into it and brought it along for the ride from the Closer album. The re-worked song sounds great and the meaning of friendships and the shortness of life rings truer than ever. Another older well known song "Hollow" has been a fan favorite for many years and it is so pleasing to finally see it on an album. This song has great catchy lyrics and sucks you in with its story of high school friendships and joining the "real world". Pair these two with all the new BTE material and you have an interesting mix of old and new songs that is sure to please any ear.

Perhaps the most interesting of the tracks on the album is "Juicy". This track seems randomly stuck in amongst all these non-falsetto songs. On first hearing it my initial thought was "WTF? Were the guys drunk when thinking this up?!" Now after several listens I think the guys knew just what they were doing: creating a totally unexpected song to catch fans off guard, but also lure them in with a catchy beat. When you think about it, isn't this always what BTE has done?...Mixed things up and come back with a totally original sound... Think back to all the BTE albums no two are alike, yet fans LOVE them all. Well trust me when I say this, "Before The Robots" is another one fans will love.

I can't wait to see these new songs in concert and also see what else the BTE guys have up their sleeves. If you are like me and would love to see these live, head on over to [...] and check out the tour section. Here's to a great band with a great new album!
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