Rock & Roll Report Card

Some Are Lakes
Some Are Lakes
One of the Boys
One of the Boys

A (85%)
Land of Talk
Some Are Lakes
Saddle Creek

It’s easy to play it safe, to repeat past successes in an attempt to placate anxious audiences with a strong affinity for the status quo. It’s harder to swallow your puffed-up pride, change your sound, throw it on an all-too-anticipated sophomore album and hold your breath, waiting for the expectant critics to weigh in.

With Some Are Lakes—the group’s first offering since the first-coveted debut album Applause Cheer Boo Hiss—Land of Talk have done just that, diversifying their sound and cementing their position as one of the best female-fronted bands in the great white north.

It’s by no means heavy. Neither is it the in-your-face sound of Applause Cheer Boo Hiss. It’s soft-rock-meets-acoustic-meets-sexy-meets-sweet-meets-distortion—a simpler description won’t, thankfully, suffice.

The vocals that made Liz Powell an indie fixture—the gruff voice and scratchy yet sweet harmonies—return, but are coupled with a newer, more melodic and haunting tone.

“Corner Phone” and “The Man Who Breaks Things” retain the power-trip sensation of the previous record. Others, though, such as “It’s Okay,” sing of the heart-broken in weighty and poetic words. The rhythmic chorus rings, “Maybe when I die/I get to be a car/driving in the night/lighting up the dark/Something in your voice/sparks a little hope/I’ll wait up for that noise.”

“Troubled” picks up where the car drives off, closing out the album in harmony—and harmonies—and, due to the insertion of a subtle harmonica, an almost country-like sound.

Eclectic, yes, but it won’t leave Land of Talk fans asking where their favourite band went. They just took a little time to think outside the box that is the ever insular world of indie-rock fame.

—Taylor Burns

D- (54%)
Katy Perry
One of the Boys
Capitol Records

Katy Perry has eight years on 15-year-old fellow pop singer Miley Cyrus, but you wouldn’t know it. Her debut album One of the Boys is full of immature poppy “girl power” anthems and a few painful ballads, and though its bubbly sound is at times enjoyable, it is undone by the feeling that Perry cares more about her image than her music.

Featuring some of the most ridiculous lyrics of all time—the album’s titular song runs as follows: “I saw a spider I didn’t scream/ ‘Cause I can belch the alphabet/ … And I tape these suckers down/’Cause they just get in my way.”—Perry clearly wants to create an image of herself as a quirky, care-free sprite who doesn’t take things too seriously.

But it seems she could use some of her own advice; the lining of the CD is filled with pictures of her posing in increasingly ridiculous outfits and in increasingly ridiculous poses, ending with her suggestively straddling an inflatable duck in a wading pool.

Although there are a few undeniably catchy songs on the album—“I Kissed a Girl,” Perry’s anthem to the bar-sexual, reached number one in over 20 countries when it debuted—most of the numbers are held back by Perry’s pitchy voice and an odd husky falsetto she is overly fond of unleashing at inopportune moments. The album’s few ballads are harshly affected by this and are rendered entirely unlistenable when the lyrics strike again, producing self pitying— yet unmoving—lines such as, “baby you are the weapon I choose/These wounds are self-inflicted.”

In her primary effort, Perry is analogous to her alter-ego in “I Kissed a Girl:” the girl at the bar making out with her friends to catch the attention of intoxicated males. She may be giving it all she’s got, but there’s absolutely no feeling behind it.

—Monica Heisey

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