This story was written by Journalism I student Ahmed Ahmed.
In the age of the internet, when demand for new and interesting music is reaching a feverish pitch, bands have to explore ways to make their albums stand out from the oceans and oceans of competition. Castlecomer not only fails to create an album that stands out, but doesn’t even attempt to create an album that’s anything more than cliched and mediocre.
Castlecomer, named after a rural town in Northern Ireland is an Australian rock band of five childhood friends. It was formed in 2013, but 2018 was the year in which they debuted their first album-surprisingly enough, titled “Castlecomer.”
“Castlecomer” is a collection of 11 songs. The vast majority of the songs are upbeat, techno-heavy love songs, but there’s at least one song on the track that doesn’t fit at all into that description, which is ‘Leaving.’
The largest and most apparent problem of the album is its unwillingness to take risks to create music that’s engaging and interesting. The majority of the album’s songs are generic, not-particularly-special poppy love songs with an over-focus on production quality and instrumentals and an under-focus on the actual meat and potatoes of each song—the lyrics.
For instance, look no further than ‘Fire Alarm.’ There’s nothing on the surface wrong with it. The instrumentals are hummable, energetic and upbeat. But the actual lyrics of the song leave much to be desired. Not a single one stands out as particularly creative or meaningful and it adds up to an overall generic mess that doesn’t have any actual purpose. Their song ‘Escapism‘ suffers from many of the same problems. It’s a love song with a techno-pop edge and is boring to an almost hilarious degree. In fact, an entire section of the song is made up of brilliant lyrics such as “Do wanna be my love? Do you wanna be mine? Do you wanna be mine? Do ya? Do ya, do you wanna be my love?” and so on and so on.
This album can be compared to another pop-rock album—”Revolution Radio” from Green Day. That album offers insightful perspectives on defining issues of our time, masterfully using the lyrics to stir up intense emotions in the listener. It brings a freshness that inherently gives the album value.
The same cannot be said about Castlecomer. The songs are dry and dull and there’s genuinely little that distinct them from other relatively humdrum love songs that can be heard on the radio.
None of this is to say that all of the album is a failure. There genuinely are songs in this compendium that really stand out as fantastic masterpieces. The aforementioned song ‘Leaving‘ is a stellar song about heartbreak, with the vocals illustrating the pain that the lyrics so beautifully present. ‘Move‘ manages to succeed as a relatively personal and sweet love song, with inspiring lyrics about how music managed to improve the life of an introverted high school girl. The beginning of the song, “She wears a black shirt to symbolize she’s hurt And covers her beautiful eyes. Walks into her school, feeling so uncool, hiding behind us guys,” sets the mood for a greatly intimate and vivid song.
Looking past the lyrics, the instrumentals and production quality are top notch. They usually match the tone of the lyrics perfectly. When they need to be energetic, they’re upbeat enough to emanate energy. The few times they need to be sad, the beat is slow and mellow enough to bring that effect.
“Castlecomer” is clearly outclassed by albums like “Revolution Radio.” And there’s little reason to specifically listen to an album with as many forgettable and generic songs as this as opposed to any other pop-rock album made in the last 50 years. The album undoubtedly has redeeming qualities-it has a few great songs and expertly-crafted instrumentals. But they’re not enough to justify listening to an otherwise mediocre and stale album, when there’s so much similar work out there.