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Memory Man

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Following up his breakthrough Strange and Beautiful, Aqualung returns with another memorable record that will move the hearts of all those who listen. Harmonic melodies combined with beautiful, moving lyrics fill Aqualung's mesmerizing Memory Man and features the captivating first single "Pressure Suit."

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Matt Hales, a.k.a. Aqualung, isn't much of a straight shooter--as a songsmith he's a natural meanderer, and as a one-man instrumentalist he's been known to pick up everything from a siren to a glockenspiel--but he's an expert at creating mesmerizing, sophisticated pop. On 2005's Strange and Beautiful, he twisted an overall outlook marked by murkiness and lethargy into something deeply pretty, and on Memory Man, his second U.S. release, he shows off a similar mastery of mood. The new disc starts with two relatively upbeat tracks, the love-tangled first single "Pressure Suit" and the guitar-heavy, un-Aqua-like "Cinderella," but by track three Hales is back to his bag of engagingly doleful tricks: for the most part on this disc, he's "scratching around for something to believe in," as the song goes. Philosophical bent aside, Memory Man has its share of loose and un-cerebral moments, too. Last track "Broken Bones" dabbles in heavy-duty radio fuzz, and "Rolls So Deep" sidles up to a never-before-heard musical space that's equal parts Bruce Springsteen, David Byrne, and every affecting '70s ballad singer you've ever heard. --Tammy La Gorce
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 13, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B000MV8CYI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,659 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ken Lim on March 16, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is Aqualung's best album. While Matt Hales' previous release Strange and Beautiful, had a few standout tracks, the album as a whole was lukewarm at best. On the other hand, Memory Man is filled with quality tracks and is one of the better releases from the first quarter of 2007. Fans of the Coldplay-Radiohead-Keane genre of music should be very pleased with this album.

"Pressure Suit" is the first single and likewise was the first track that really caught my attention. Hales' vocals sound more like Thom Yorke's than ever in this song, and the song's outstanding chorus and instrumentation make this arguably the best song on the CD.

"Something To Believe In" also features a memorable chorus like many of the songs on Memory Man. The production on this album is top-notch and really allows songs like these to shine in their luscious, atmospheric-glory. "Glimmer" is softer than the previous two tracks, sounding a little like another UK band, Athlete. The increased use of guitars on this album is evident in songs like "Vapour Trail," which has a slight Verve feel to it.

The sixth track, "Rolls So Deep" resembles Snow Patrol's hit "Chocolate" with its driving beat and power-pop melodies. This is easily the catchiest and most upbeat song on the album, acting as a great change of pace. The next track, "The Lake" is moody and Radiohead-esque with its unique piano riffs, and you could easily mistakenly believe that it was Thom Yorke singing both vocal parts in the chorus.

"Outside" features a great lead-in to the chorus and the delayed-guitars are used well in this song. The most beautiful track on the album is "Garden of Love." Matt Hales' vocals and lyrics in this song really match the sense of longing that this song was meant to portray.
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Format: Audio CD
Aqualung (a/k/a Matt Hales' one man band with help from his brother in the live setting and his wife co-writing) burst onto the scene with the song "Brighter Than Sunshine", used in a TV commercial, which lead to the US 2005 release of the "Strange and Beautiful" album, itself a compilation of 2 earlier UK albums. Now comes the eagerly awaited second US album, but really the third proper album from Aqualung.

"Memory Man" (11 tracks, 50 min.) starts off with a blast. After about 5 seconds of "Cinderella", guitars come crashing in, and you immediatly realize this is a new era for Aqualung, with a much more "in your face" sound. "Cinderella" and the next track, first single "Pressure Suit", remind of arena-sized Coldplay, and it sounds great. The first half of the album brings the "rockier" sound, including a great "Vapour Trail". The second half of the album finds Aqualung bringing quieter songs, reminiscent of the "Strange and Beautiful" album. Check out "The Lake" and in particular the gorgeous "Garden of Love" and the closer "Broken Bones". Incidentally, Matt Hales' wife Kim Oliver co-wrote half of the songs on the album. In all, this album takes Aqualung to the next level, a fantastic album overall.

I pre-ordered this album at Aqualung's show last week in Cincinnati, and just for doing that I also got "Aqualung Live & Rarities: With Apologies to Anyone Who Is Really Heartbroken" (13 tracks, 37 min.), a mix of spoken (and often funny) introductions by Matt Hales and 7 actual songs taken from concerts and in-radio sessions. In particular noteworthy is the cover of Queen's "Somebeody to Love", done beautifully. At Aqualung's set last week (opening for Pete Yorn), the set was mixed up between older and new (unheard) songs, and the band just shone. Watch them take on America....
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Format: Audio CD
Aqualung has been sort of dormant for the last few years. But now that Matt Hales has returned, his music has become even more strange and beautiful -- his fourth full-length album "Memory Man" is a beautiful swirl of wintry, misty Britpop, strung together on .

It opens with the trippy beats laid over plinky piano and gently cycling, fuzzy guitars. And sounding like he's singing through an old radio, Hales murmurs blearily, "I remember the night/No wet eyes, no crossroads/No mention of fate/Just a poor decision... Be careful what you hope and you pray for/You know you only get what you pay for."

It's followed by the softer, more mournful "Pressure Suit," which sounds like the Flaming Lips got drunk and depressed: "I'll be your four leaf clover/I'll be your pressure suit/I'll be your angel wings/I'll be your parachute." The songs that follow are similarly mournful and wintry, but different styles, like soaring pianopop, mellow guitar folk.

The second half is when the album really takes off, with heartbreaking little ballads and tightly-woven indiepop, though they both have the doleful lyrics and voicals. And it finishes where it began -- "Broken Bones" returns to Hales singing through static and fuzz, "Oh please, just a little more time with you..."

You can't really label "Memory Man" as either being happy or sad. Just like the experience of being in love, it's full of beauty laced with sadness, and the hope that it will last just a little longer. Even when the music is peppy and catchy, Hales still sounds like someone who loves love, but knows that it won't last.

The music itself is a beautiful, frosty swirl, which borders on psychedelic but never quite crosses the line.
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