Volume 93, Issue 99

Wednesday, April 5, 2000


El Dorado worth the journey

Catherine Wheel rolls with punches

A Heartbreaking Work lives up to its name

Formula doesn't always succeed

Formula doesn't always succeed

Jann Arden
blood red cherry

Canadian singer/songwriter Jann Arden's latest album, blood red cherry, is a journey from bad to worse. The new album fits in well with Arden's three previous releases, proving that the singer has an uncanny ability to create second-rate, formulaic pop albums.

Arden continues to stumble repeatedly over themes of love and loss. It's a wonder she can muster the strength to go on, having suffered so many broken hearts. This album is brimming with cliché-ridden songs which explore loss, rejection, desperation and the Arden specialty of melancholy. Consequently, it also showcases Arden's self-absorbed nature, as she drones on for almost an hour.

At its core, this album fails because of shoddy songwriting. Finding a track void of clichés and fromage is truly a feat most extraordinary. On "Cherry Popsicle," Arden sings, "You were my sweetest honey bee/You were my flashlight in the dark," while on "Never Give Up On Me," she murmurs, "I have wished on every star that shot across my broken heart/I am still amazed that you came true."

Other tracks which lend themselves to the cheesy tone of the album include, "I Only Wanted Sex," "Best Dress" and "Another Human Being." "I Only Wanted Sex" is a pretty self-explanatory rant about a short-lived relationship based on sex, while "Best Dress" employs a horribly bad Dixie Chicks impersonation in a raunchy tune about touching oneself.

The instrumentation is standard Arden fare, which is unfortunate because artists who are labelled as consistently sounding the same seem to have a difficult time breaking the mold and charting a new course. Although there are a number of drum loops on the album, they give off a manufactured, faceless vibe.

In light of all of these disasters, the album is quietly redeemed by two aspects of the track "Into The Sun." The song offers a strong political message and some of the most original instrumentation on the entire album. As well, the background vocals of Dillon O'Brian are mesmerizing. One wishes they could turn Arden's voice down and O'Brian's voice up, just to get a better feel for its quiet, sullen sophistication.

blood red cherry is by no means worthy of much praise. Arden relies on a status quo formula for manufacturing pop music, producing another album that few people will care about five minutes from now.

–Matt Pearson

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
BTNH Resurrection

Despite melodious lyrics mixed with classic old-school beats, the quality that truly sets rappers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony apart from their peers is their skill at cramming an incredible amount of words into every verse. This ability has garnered BTNH their fame and is continued on their fourth release, BTNH Resurrection.

Another attribute which allows BTNH to stand out so clearly from the rest of the pack is their refusal to rap about the player lifestyle of ice, whores and Rolexes. These lyricists take on topics which are both engaging and empathetic to all audiences, tackling questions of a spiritual nature.

There are touches of the violent side of the lifestyle in Resurrection, but they are made not for glorification or shock value, but to show the negative side of the streets. On "2 Glocks," all five members take their turn dropping hypnotic verses on the prospect of warfare, while a piano plunks tunelessly in the background – a simple but enormously resonant combination. Most of the album follows a much more positive tone, however, with uplifting, inspiring message on cuts like "Don't Worry" and "Change The World."

BTNH Resurrection is best, however, when the group puts all their opinions and beliefs to the side and simply concentrates on one thing – rocking the mic with extreme prejudice. Tracks such as "Battlezone," "Show 'Em" and "Can't Give It Up," all of which feature deep, pounding bass grooves and subtle synth effects as a base for BTNH to construct their multi-leveled lyrical structures.

Truly, BTNH Resurrection represents a positive side to following a successful formula.

–Luke Rundle

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