Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Creature Feature - American Gothic album review



For the unfamiliar, Creature Feature is an American Goth Rock duo that is set to drop their third album, "American Gothic", on December 24th, just in time to haunt the holidays. I was lucky enough to receive my CD two days early, and after spending some time with the album I can assure you that American Gothic is a worthy installment to Creature Feature's discography.

The band has always been heavy on synthesizers, and American Gothic is no exception. The songs are well composed and have strong, memorable choruses to go with the detailed verses. The songs tend to be pretty formulaic and dependent on repitition, but Creature Feature seems to be content with sacrificing complex choruses for the dark and twisted fun that they've become associated with. The band has gotten more experimental, though, as can be heard on the 80's pop rock sounding "Here There Be Witches" and slow, doomy "A Feast for Worms". The riffs come and go smoothly and most of them hit pretty damn hard, and the album is altogether very well produced.

There is a noticable shift from the horror movie inspired songs of The Greatest Show Unearthed and It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, as this album has a pretty consistent lyric theme. I can't help but wonder if this was intended to be a concept album like their side project Dead Beat, because there are at least five songs (so, half the album) about death and what becomes of body parts. The Netherworld, A Feast for Worms, and Dem Bones are what happens after death, while Nearly Departed and Wake the Dead are about the rise of the dead. The theme of decay and ressurection is found is in almost every song. I have to say I'm a little underwhelmed coming from past albums that dealt with aliens, molemen, cannibals, and ghosts all at once.

The band released six songs as singles, which struck me as very odd, considering that there are only ten songs on the entire album (so 60% of the album was released beforehand). After several listens of American Gothic, their single choices don't surprise me. The first half of the album is significantly stronger in every way: it's catchier and more memorable, there's more energy in the songs, and the lyrical themes vary much more. By the second half, things slow down and almost blur together into a progressive take on the Creature Feature sound. Ordinarily this would be a nice development, but in contrast to the opening half that isfast and fun, the slow and morbid second half is almost boring until you get into it. Speaking of boring, the final album artwork is pretty plain compared to the detailed single artwork that has been released.




On the note of blurring together, the actual lyrics of most of the songs sound forced and stressed. This is not a new issue for Creature Feature; almost every song has some awkward lyrical placement that flows uncomfortably. The band makes it work and it doesn't deter from the quality of the overall album too much, but certain songs like The Netherworld and Dem Bones make it hard not to notice how poorly the flow has been optimized.

Overall, this album was extremely enjoyable and captures the sound of Creature Feature perfectly as well as demonstrating the experimental and progressive side of the band. It's still not clear which direction the band is going to head in, but whatever it is, it's going to sound spooky and halloween-y to boot. I'm not great with numerical scores, but I'd give American Gothic a solid 7.9/10

Pros:

  • Familiar Creature Feature sound as well as experimentation
  • Tight and catchy instrumentals
  • Clean and deep production

Cons:

  • Awkward lyrical organization
  • Limited theme exploration, very "same-y"

American Gothic as well as Creature Feature's previous two albums are available for purchase via http://villainsandvaudevillians.bigcartel.com/category/creature-feature-albums, as well as iTunes, Amazon music, and other digital retailers. The band struggles with piracy and a lack of fan support, so I'm sure a purchase would be very much appreciated by the fiendish duo.