My undying devotion to the one known as SBF during American Idol is legendary. The punk rock chick in me is needing to know that rock still has a place in the pop culture universe, and AI is the music equivalent to the Psychic Friends. Rock indeed can sell in today’s market, even in the context of a popularity contest disguised as a talent show. That being said, AI this year was also awash with pure talent.
The typically quick turnaround ( 10 weeks) of our reigning champs debut means two things. One, it’s uneven. Two, it’s a good representation of what we shall expect in David Cook’s career. Overall, DC’s independent debut/ mini masterpiece Analog Heart, self written and self produced, is a better album. That doesn’t mean David Cook is a bad album. On the contrary, in the realm of Idol world, it’s freaking Abbey Road to Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway ( the Sgt. Pepper’s of this analogy) and Carrie Underwood’s Some Hearts ( Let It Be). ( Chris Daughtry’s album would be Let It Bleed– similar, but not the same, regardless of what other hacks try to say). It also is one of the better rock records of the year. Take it from someone who is coming out of her GNR denial and realizing what crap that record is. DC is modern despite his throwback sound.
Songwriting by committee, though, rarely serves a rock album well. With names like Chris Cornell, Raine Maida, John Rzeznik, and Kevin Griffin, DC is working with some of the best, most melodic songwriters in the biz. The delicate ” Permanent” ( co-written with Maida and Maida’s wife, chanteuse Chantal Kreviazuk, and it has her fingerprints all over it) is the loveliest song on the album. the lead off single, ” Light On”, has grown on me significantly since my first review, and is now one of my favorite songs of the year, with it’s minor key intro and soaring chorus. ” Declaration” ( a.k.a. the other song played on SNL) is melodic and rocking. ” Bar-Ba-Sol”, the best track on the album, is blessed with an asymmetrical melody, grinding guitars, and a solo that peels the paint off the ceiling, teamed with an awesomely off-kilter vocal melody. ” A Daily AntheM”, a holdover from his solo writing, is the truest song, the one completely in his voice, and it’s connection on an emotional level with me is pretty amazing.
Not every track works for me. I know fans love ” Life On the Moon”, which is blessed with a great melody, but the lyrics buckle under the titular conceit. DC’s usual hyper-literate lyrics are missing ( go check out Analog Heart for comparison sake- once a word nerd, always a word nerd, but clever and CLEVER play differently). ” Come Back To Me”- I have listened to that song a dozen times and I can’t remember much about it. It’s lost among stronger material. ” Mr. Sensitive” is too on the nose ( I like my rock songs with a little quirk in them). The inclusion of the truly now grating ” Time Of My Life” is certainly not DC’s fault, as I’m sure 19 Entertainment contracts stipulate the Idol will forever be saddled with that claptrap.
It’s not a perfect album. It is, however, thoroughly enjoyable, well produced ( props to Rob Cavallo for not making it sound like it went through a digital blender, but like a rock record), and overall, considering this year in music, one of the better albums of the year.