Your Body Above Me
DGC Records, 1997
REVIEW BY: Alison Bellach
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/28/1998
Think of this: An A-Ha-like video, consisting of lots of crazy drawings/cartoon-esque action, with an insistent guitar solo on top. Images of lots of people in a crowded warehouse, jumping and diving as a band rocks it's way through another song. Yeah, these images sound a bit MTV, but they are exactly what I think of when I listen to this album.
And that's not a bad thing.
Black Lab's first CD, Your Body Above Me, offers nothing less then radio-perfect, guitar-driven rock. They are reminiscent of U2 and Radiohead, but manage to keep an identity of their own by moving flawlessly through small nuances of the rock genre (from lost love song to political tune to confessing love ballad).
The CD opens with the first single from the album, "Wash It Away." It is one of those rare songs where the repetition of a sound or phrase (in this case the word "away", which is used at the end of almost every line) does not drive the listener away but instead, creates a uniformity which makes the song easily accessible upon first listen. Lead singer Paul Durham masterfully delivers the song, making it pure ear candy. (Yummy!)
The second song, "She Loves Me," suffers from bad track placement -- "Wash It Away"'s repeated "aways", make this song seem repetitive and uninspired when the first lines end with the same word. The song also has the feeling of album filler - nothing spectacular, nothing too bad, but just a song to pass the time between tracks.
Tracks 3 and 9, "X-Ray" and "All The Money In The World", are pure dance-club fodder. The use of distortion mike to add a second voice to the songs is done really well, and when coupled with an awesome rhythm and guitar-driven melody, you are practically forced of your seat and into boogie mode. The political message behind "All The Money In The World" extends one's interest in it as a song into another dimension, due to it's depth of lyrical content.
Another of my favorite tracks on the album was released as the second single. "Time Ago" is a wonderful ballad whose great lyrics (which emphasize small, wonderful images as being the things to remember about a relationship) are coupled with another awesome delivery of the somewhat difficult melody. The similarity between this song and a U2 ballad give the opportunity for mis-identification of the band (especially on the radio, which is what happened when I had a friend listen to this track), but I think the association is positive.
Track 10, "She Sleeps With Angels", is quite a surprise - I instantly thought of the Black Crowes due to the title, and I was impressed with the familiarity I felt that I had with the song. It sounded like something I had heard before. When listening to this track, I think that the flaws I find with the album are most apparent - it is not inventive whatsoever. In fact, every song sounds like something I have heard before, only with a different delivery.
This does not detract from the fact that the disc is wonderful, though. A lack of inventiveness does not take away from awesome musicianship and a general cool sound. If you see this CD, pick it up and take it for a spin -- especially if you find it used or in a bargain bin. It is not something you'll regret.