Sunday Night Playlist: [Review] Poets of the Fall – Jealous Gods

This is the first music review I’ve done in ages, but I figure to ease myself back into my theme days on this blog, that I’d do a review for a new album from one of my favorite bands.  These guys seem to build on their momentum with every new release they have, and “Jealous Gods” has a variety of songs that aptly fit not only the name of the album, but further a strong thematic, lyricism, and diverse stylistic palette while remaining true to heart to the band’s previous offerings. Review to follow under the tracklisting and cut.

Poets of the Fall – “Jealous Gods”
Released: September 19th, 2014

"Jealous Gods" is Poets of the Fall's sixth studio album.

“Jealous Gods” is Poets of the Fall’s sixth studio album.

Tracklisting:

1. Daze
2. Jealous Gods
3. Rumors
4. Brighter than the Sun
5. Love Will Come to You
6. Rogue (instrumental)
7. Rebirth
8. Hounds to Hamartia
9. Clear Blue Sky
10. Choice Millionaire
11. Nothing Stays the Same

I think “Jealous Gods” was the first album I ended up pre-ordering from Amazon from Poets, because the moment I saw the music video on Youtube and realized that they had a new album coming out in September, I was doing mental happy dances and cartwheels.  I think this is among my favorite title for their albums (alongside “Carnival of Rust”), because it stood out to me for the possibilities of what they would do with it.  The album cover suits the title very well too – lending me the impression of “Caution: Jealous Gods ahead.”  I laughed about it because I thought “Uh oh, probably a good idea to watch where I tread.”  😛

I’ve given myself a while after the album’s release date to let the album settle with my impressions.  Seriously, I think it’s among the band’s strongest offerings, and there’s not a single track that didn’t stand out to me in some way, whether stylistically or symbolically (or both!).  It’s said to follow in the steps of former albums (Revolution Roulette, Twilight Theater) as a trilogy of sorts, and I can see stylistically and thematically how it ties in.  Especially with its ties to Twilight Theater.

In addition to Marko, Ollie, and Captain’s contributions, Jari, Jani, and Jaska – who have accompanied the band in their concerts, make their debut on this album.   Welcome guys!

“Daze” is a strong album opener and single, with great use of Marko Saaresto’s falsetto during the chorus and strong melodic lines throughout the song.   It’s infectious, and I can attest to that since I’ve had this song stuck in my head on repeat for the first week or two that I listened to the album. When watching the music video, I recognized Marko’s disguise as resembling the jester from the cover of “Twilight Theater”.   The MV’s good, I liked it, probably not as much as some of their other music videos, but I definitely loved the costumes and Marko’s facial expressions (which, dude! Scary!).  The symbolism caught me immediately in the video, suggesting that these “gods” if you will, all under the control of this rather alluring jester/puppet master/devil clown (take your pick, he’s still evil) are in this dance of lust and sin, with one woman straying from the pack as she casts her mask aside.   Marko’s cradling the mask at one point in the video, and his eyes get this look like “How dare she defy me? BURN!” I think ultimately, the video’s showing how anyone who strays from the control of this “master” gets swallowed by the flames, whether of desire, sin, or control. Interesting, yet scary, thought.

One of my favorite lines of the song is “Further afield, my nemesis on stilts is gaining on me” – not only for its previous ties to POTF songs, but for the hilarious image in my head I get of one god running away from the other god on stilts. =P  Forgive me, but I keep thinking of these gods being like imps.  Don’t ask me why.

“Jealous Gods” – the album’s title song – follows “Daze” with a beautiful anthemic piece that’s sobering compared to the energy of the first song.  It makes for a very strong defining piece to embody the album, interesting in that it portrays this sense of longing and bargaining of identity. It’s a beautiful song.  “Rumors” became an instant favorite for me for its steady build in the verses to the dynamic chorus.  Very in tune to the album’s theme considering the lure of the song’s subject and temptation to follow the “lackeys of lust”.  Despite the dynamic melody, it’s actually a rather dark song, and I loved the imagery of the lyrics. “Brighter Than the Sun” was one that grew on me through the course of listening to the album, partially for how inspiring it sounds. Instead of the sun being an obtrusive presence that’s overbearing or too much for one to handle, it’s more that the speaker’s coming into his own from the influence of his beloved and using it as his strength.  Guitar solo was amazing, and somewhat reminded me of some of the melodic solos on the album “Carnival of Rust”.  I loved the accent of Marko’s “ohs” at the end of the bridge into the chorus as well, for an emotionally potent touch.

“Love Will Come to You” appealed to me for its light folk-ish melody that feels like you can sway to it, as well as the imagery of the lyricism “Like morning dew, love will come to you.”

“Rogue” is the first instrumental that Poets have ever included on an album and it was wonderful. Definitely among my favorite tracks and I picked up the fact that a part of the melody here references Revolution Roulette.  Interesting enough that it seems to be a “rogue” with transitioning the mood in the progression of the album thus far, but also for being the lone instrumental. 🙂

“Rebirth” somewhat sounds like “Morning Tide” from “Temple of Thought” to me and I like the sorrow, sacrifice, and longing behind the speaker’s lines in the lyricism.  Like a god who would trangress in any measure for his love. Though it kind of surprised me to hear the reference to Tinker Bell close to the end of the song.  I liked it though. 🙂

“Hounds to Harmatia” was technically the first version of “Late Goodbye” – according to the small snippet at the end of this song.  I loved this song – for symbolic quality and melody, and I could see the melodic parallels, even if this has a bit more lift for the tone of the song.  I almost want to say that it sounds a bit in places like “Stay” from “Signs of Life” as well.

“Clear Blue Sky” – If anyone has followed my Last.fm profile, you’ll know I’ve played this track well over 100 times.   It’s my favorite of the album, even if it’s not the most lyrically detailed song of the album. It’s insane how this one ended up sticking with me.  It’s a short piece compared to many of the songs on this album (I think it might even be the shortest song on the album) – but something about the ambiance in the melody really stuck with me for the verses, before it branches out into the lift of the guitar driven choruses, like a god with wings running just before he takes flight in the skies above.  I loved the lyrics here, and it spoke to me because of this emphasis on freedom and casting aside inhibitions.

Some of the lines that really stuck with me:

“The memories still rock my cradle
Yesterdays will sing me a lullaby.

I can’t fight it,
It takes me back
To the days when you and I ran free of worries
Underneath the wide, clear blue sky.”

And:

“I’ll never be the one, no,
To regret the things I’ve never done.
And I’ll reason with, with myself tonight
No longer feel the need to justify.

I can’t fight it,
It takes me back
And I remember reaching high,
like borne on wings of sheer belief through my clear blue sky.”

“Choice Millionaire” definitely sounded very different from any Poets song I’ve heard so far, but I actually ended up loving it.  The spoken verses flow very well with great imagery to compliment the transitions.  The ping of the melody makes me think of the sparkle of coins (don’t ask me why).  I kept thinking the line “you can travel in your easy chair” made me think of a god sitting on his throne and kind of flipping the coin of chance to see what he’ll do next. This song kind of carries the same theme of losing inhibitions as “Clear Blue Sky” – just in a different way. It’s a nice song and I really enjoyed it.  I’ve had this one on repeat for quite a while.

The album closer, “Nothing Stays the Same” didn’t quite strike me as strongly as some previous album conclusions from the group (like “Where Do We Draw the Line”,  “Heal My Wounds”, or “Dawn.”  “Dawn” is probably my favorite from that group).  It’s a decent song, but probably my least favorite on this album.  That’s not really saying much because I think every song from this album is strong in its own way.   The song fits thematically with the album very well, and provides a lingering point in its lyricism, but it’s not a song, personally speaking, I would come back to as readily as others on the album.

Overall, fine form from a fine group of musicians on an exceptional album.  I’m looking forward to seeing what these guys come up with next.

Overall score: 8.5/10

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