Normally, the stuff we review here are obtained by ourselves. If we review a movie, we either buy a ticket to go see it or by other means. If we review a toy or video game, we have to have purchased it so we can actual spend some quality time with the product. Even when it comes to music, we’re never sent the song for review. We need to have listened to it via YouTube or somewhere else.
Until now, that is.
Recently, I was contacted through the site by a band named Inspector 34. They happened to run across my nostalgic trip regarding The Adventures of Pete and Pete episode, which is where they got their name. They asked if I was interested to review their latest album, Love My Life. Even though I’m not familiar with the band and their sound, I figured “why not?” I accepted but with the caveat that I will have to be as honest as possible, despite getting the entire album for free. They graciously agreed, So I gave all the tracks a listen over the weekend and, well, here are my unbiased thoughts on Inspector 34’s latest album, Love My Life.
Just by listening to their first track on the album, I could already completely get Inspector 34’s sound. They’re definitely an indie rock group who lean more towards experimentation with different sounds. Now, for me, this can either work like gangbusters if the band manages to give me something that sounds unique but doesn’t come out like noise. Of course, the opposite can be true and the mix of a variety of notes could just sound like you’re throwing a bunch of cats into a dryer and recording the sounds they make and call it a song. Oh, and please don’t do that. Don’t toss cats into a dryer, I mean.
So, what about Inspector 34? How do they sound? Well, in all honesty, Love My Life is a mixed bag. But it is a mixed bad that does lean towards more good than bad. There are definitely some songs that I really enjoyed, surprisingly so, I might add. But there are just some that I didn’t care for.
A perfect example of one of Inspector 34’s songs that I enjoyed is what you could call their first single from the album, The Gray House. There’s this weird mix of dour sadness and even apathy yet still bounces around with a happy rhythm. There’s a feeling of controlled chaos throughout This Grey House that did connect with me. Oh, I also do like the intro a lot. So much so I caught myself humming it without realizing it. I wouldn’t say it was catchy but rather, I would say it does stick in your head.
Another track I particularly enjoyed was the second track of the album, Everybody. I liked how, well, trippy it sounded. Even so, there was a familiar feeling to it, like something from bands like maybe Sonic Youth or other the early indie/noise/punk bands from yesteryear. It’s got a cool intro and the song itself kind of feels like you’ve bonked your noggin something fierce and now your entire world is spinning rapidly… but it’s a good and euphoric feeling.
One more song I liked was Slake. Once again, it’s got a killer intro (I guess it’s a theme Inspector 34 has nailed down) and, strangely enough, reminds me of some of the later Beatles sound they had, like Blue Jay Way but not exactly. It still has a very unique tone to it but it’s a tone that just works well. I also liked False Prophets a whole bunch. It oddly sounds like a really incohesive jam session but, for whatever reason, the mix of disparate sounds combined into something that was more than the sum of its parts.
I do have to comment on the lead singer, who I think is named Jim Warren. I wouldn’t call him the best singer I’ve ever heard. In fact, most of the time, I can’t really understand the lyrics. Maybe it’s my old man ears. Even so, I can’t really knock him because, well, he does manage to deliver the needed emotion that fits the song. This mostly means he’s yelling at the top of his lungs. Which is why I guess it was a breath of fresh air (and a way for him to rest his vocal chords maybe?) when I could actually understand the lyrics of The World Explodes. This isn’t the only reason why I liked it. It sounds like a weird mix of old punk and… a country song? I’m dunno. But sometimes, I do like a depressing and dour song and The World Explodes does fit the bill.
Unfortunately, as much as I liked most of the songs in Love My Life, there are some that just didn’t click with me. Sadly, this goes for the album’s title tracks. Yes, I used the plural form correctly as there are three songs, Love, My and Life that do combine to form the album’s name. Remember when I said that experimental songs can go wrong if the notes just don’t go together? This is what I got from those three tracks. I can appreciate the creativity of kind of having three songs that have the same thought behind them but I just couldn’t get into them.
The same can be said for the longest song in the collection, Ride the River of Light (Screaming into the Void). It starts out peaceful and very minimalist in a sense. It kind of sounds like a white noise machine that sometimes gets interrupted by a few guitar chords played out of tune. The song does slowly gets distorted over time and that initial peaceful sound becomes more chaotic, almost to an uncomfortable level. I guess this is what Inspector 34 was going for when they put this song together. I just didn’t like it.
All-in-all, I actually liked most of the tracks from Inspector 34’s Love My Life album. It’s not something I would normally seek out but I was indeed pleasantly surprised at how I appreciated the band’s sound. It’s definitely different and eclectic from a lot of the popular songs we hear today. But there’s definitely an audience that will appreciate the stuff Inspector 34 churns out. I’m kind of one of them now.
You can check out all Love My Life songs from Inspector 34’s BandCamp page. You can also purchase the album from there.
Have you listened to Inspector 34’s other songs? What did you think of Love My Life? Let me know in the comments section below!