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Before the Robots
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"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.
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.
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.
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
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this CD. Have their greatest hits, but Juicy is not on it.. so I purchased this CD to add to my collection. Love them.Published on September 26, 2013 by Charmaine B. Donato
Great album and excellent transition from BTE into changing the style of music. Excellent driving CD for long trips or casual enjoymentPublished on June 13, 2013 by michirock
Since I am a Baby Boomer Rockin Roller, I had heard one of these songs on a TV show and thought I would try it out, not bad.........I still like my Classic Rock stuff better. Read morePublished on October 18, 2012 by pie856
I won't bore you with some artsy fartsy description of the music like most cd reviews. If you like BTE you will love this CD. Read morePublished on April 17, 2010 by Z. X. Hall
I have had this cd for almost two years and it is still a strong player in my rotation. This is an excellent example of when a band leaves their label to do their own thing. Read morePublished on March 7, 2008 by Bradley R. Beckwith
I'm a huge fan of BTE and this is the best album they have put out yet. Kevin's lyrics are poetry and don't disappoint!Published on March 21, 2007 by Michael Johnson
I am a big fan of BTE, and this disk does not dissapoint. Songs are catchy and easy to get into.Published on January 31, 2007 by J. Riegel
I am so disappointed that more people do not know how wonderful this band is. Each new album is creative and daring; the hooks never fail to give me goose bumps. Read morePublished on November 15, 2006 by Emelie D. Armstrong
The Cure had "Disintegration", BTE has "Before the Robots" as their masterpiece. If you ever had a broken heart... Read morePublished on September 7, 2006 by seanw44