After a long and painful time of waiting, the Julien-K
debut album "Death to Analog
" had finally been released on March 10, 2009. It quickly paved its way into the ear canals of many people, and–hands down–in my opinion it is the best album in the rock / electronic genre for ages, and at the same time it really raises the bar for other artists and competitors in the sector.
Whoever thinks that the songs might have outworn themselves after one year is completely mistaken. For me, the album has become a timeless classic in music history that I could listen to all the time. Death to Analog
not only declares the digital revolution in its title, but it also caused my own new personal musical revolution by properly introducing myself, who had previously been more of a lover of heavy guitar riffs, to the broad field of electronic, atmospheric music. But to my surprise one can also find the aforementioned heavy guitar riffs in the album, and this interesting orgy of sounds (sic!) on the album is actually the tip of the iceberg that really hits home for me. One could even go as far as saying that Julien-K
are delivering the perfect symbiosis of rocky, guitar-driven, and powerful fragments (--> in the song "Spiral" one can even hear an outstanding guitar solo!) and beat- and synth-laden electronic soundscapes.
Of course one also notices the influence of bands such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, Pet Shop Boys, and Nine Inch Nails
, and also the preference for 80ies new wave, industrial, and electronic sounds in general, but nevertheless the album never ceases to amaze with its originality, freshness, diversity, and creativity that is rarely to be found in today’s music. Besides, I find it extremely impressive how the guys always manage to create so many different atmospheres and moods in one album that allow the listener to listen and adapt to the tracks in every imaginable condition of life.
The album spans from dusky, bass-driven dancefloor hits (such as "Futura," "Death to Analog
," and "Nvr Say Nvr") to poppier, more positive and super-catchy songs such as "Spiral" and "Kick
the Bass." In between, the slow love ballad "Forever" serves as a kind of breather, and the love motif (or rather the act of love-making) is also taken to full effect in the song "Systeme de Sexe" which captivates the listener with a hypnotic rhythm and an adept flirt with sexual attraction. The song "Dystopian Girl
" also sticks out in a strange way, and also does not fit to the rest of the album (particularly due to the speaking choirs that remind of old-school Pet Shop Boys), and the verses of the song "Disease
" include some sort of spoken-word verses that at the same time give another proof for the versatility in frontman Ryan Shuck's vocal work. In general, Ryan Shuck is really able to show off his outstanding vocal qualities on this album (for example in the songs "Forever," "Maestro
," and "Dreamland
" wherein Shuck's emotional vocals are shining really bright), and Amir Derakh also constantly delights the listeners with crazy and extraordinary guitar effects and riffs, while Elias Andra serves as the rhythmic fundament of the band and also sticks out with some of his ingenious and difficult drum parts (such as in "Technical Difficulties" and the title track).
The lyrics should also not be left out in this case. The whole album can virtually be considered Ryan Shuck's personal diary—it contains everything from heartbreak to joys of love, from dealing with the traumatic past over the dangers of addictions and personal problems to the process of finding oneself, visions of the future, glimmers of hope, and it even slightly touches upon political issues. Often the lyrics' meaning appear to be somehow encrypted, poetic or more open to interpretation but this is also a reason why one can relate to this album—as mentioned before—in basically every condition of life.
Sound-wise and lyric-wise, the album continuously forms a tight unit, and although every song appears to be different or sets itself apart from the rest (also in terms of mood and atmosphere), everything matches perfectly, and one always thinks that everything simply had to be done that way. With every new listening attempt one discovers some new exciting details that one had not noticed before, and every trace of boredom or monotony is choked off immediately. I can imagine that this album might need some time until it completely unfolds onto the listener–but once it has sparked its fire, it will be turn out to be one of the most beautiful listening experiences ever. For me, this album is both addiction and therapy at the same time, and it has become a loyal companion on my way that I do not want to miss at any point of my life. I surely hope others of you will be able to grasp that feel as well, and therefore I can only appeal to you all again to get this album and to enter the sound realms of Julien-K
. I ensure you that you will not regret the purchase if you are an open-minded lover of modern and high-quality pop, rock, and electronic music, and I promise that you will still catch yourself singing along to many lines of the songs or tapping your foot to that one particular beat many weeks later!
Recommended Songs: All of them – from first to last and from last to first!