This past week, huge numbers of eager fans of the uber-successful author of the “Twilight” series were breathlessly waiting for the release of Blue October’s latest CD, Approaching Normal. Having inspired the “Twilight” author throughout her writing career and influencing the series, fans of Blue October and the saga will not be disappointed in their latest album, to say the least.
Nearly eight months after embarking on an exclusive four-stop tour corresponding with the release of Meyer’s final novel, “Breaking Dawn,” Blue October’s latest album leaves fans with sincere lyrics and a truly unique composition of tracks. Each song on the album is a breath of fresh air, getting better and better as the CD flows along with genuine emotion and distinctive use of instruments and voiceovers. As one song nears its end, it’s as if your ears brace for the excitement of the next. Each track is a colorfully wrapped Christmas present dying to be opened and experienced — mysterious, exciting and unique from the last before it.
The earnestness behind some of the songs on Approaching Normal and the hauntingly expressive emotion lead singer Furstenfeld can muster is sometimes a bit unnerving. At times, Furstenfeld will transition from singing his lyrics to simply speaking them out loud, as if so overwhelmed by the story in each of his songs that the words pour out of his soul.
In one track about domestic abuse (“Weight of the World”), a woman cries heavily, her breathing raspy with the fear of discovery, as policemen knock on her door, begging her to open up. Tribal-sounding drums hauntingly enter, drowning out the woman’s crying as Furstenfeld comes in with, “A blackout in the room again/ A busted lip and broken skin/ I wake up in the bathroom/ And dare not bother asking/ Why the mirror’s cracked and all I see/ Are shards of glass inside of me.” Heavy.
But don’t be afraid: While Blue October does have the capability to discuss very serious and solemn subjects, other tracks on the album could not be any more upbeat. In one such bubbly track, “Jump Rope,” mandolins and violins bouncily play as Furstenfeld sings, “Up Down/ Up Down/ Up Down/ Up Down/ It will get hard, remember/ Life’s like a jump rope,” The only thing that could make this song any cheerier would be if a group of kindergarten munchkins chimed in and began to sing it along with Furstenfeld. Wait — they do. What a happy bunch.
In all honesty, Blue October’s latest album is a breath of fresh air in an extremely superficial musical era (Miley Cyrus anybody? The Jonas Brothers?). Approaching Normal combines every genre — from grunge to pop and back again — because truly, this band is above any specific genre. Every track on this CD comes from the heart and soul, transcending the stereotypes of what their “sound” is, and simply offering songs of truth and honesty.
After completely falling in love with Approaching Normal, it is easy to see where Stephanie Meyer discovered her inspiration. So, grab some tissues and your Team Edward T-shirts and give this CD a listen. Thank you Blue October — for just being so awesome.
4 1/2 stars out of 5.