Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons... Track-by-Track

Things start off with the laid-back, chilled-out Like the Rest of Us.  A great opener, it gets a vague theme going with multiple scenes, a theme which spans the whole of the album.  Puppets builds on the laid-back energy of the previous track while being a fun, almost soulful number before becoming a proper rap track halfway through.  Its follow-up, The Skinny, amps up the tempo and uses a lot of cool synth textures.  Slug raps smoothly in a disinterested speaking voice.  The album starts to take shape here with this tale of pimps and prostitution.

Dreamer is one of my favorite tracks of the release.  Telling a touching story of a single mom making her way through life over the jazzy, emotional instrumentation, the two members of Atmosphere mesh perfectly on this one all the way through to the strong, triumphant final verse.  After that, Shoulda Know comes stumbling in with a sloppy synth lead, bouncy beats and slick rhythmic tricks from Slug.  This song is, simply put, sexy.  Doesn't hurt that it's all about doing the wrong thing.

You - which kicks off with the chorus, an interesting move - kicks up the energy with another love letter to a working woman, this time a waitress.  Slug's attachment to his roots shines through on tracks like these throughout Atmosphere's existence, and the honesty displayed on this track is astounding.  Things shift up on Painting with some bluesy slide guitar.  We're treated to a narrative through the eyes of an artist.  And this is one of the tracks I was talking about in the main review - it just kinda exists, doesn't go anywhere too special, and honestly could have been left out.

The next two tracks constitute my other favorites of the album.  Your Glasshouse is a tortured romp through a scene of violently hungover next-day despair.  The synths that Ant employs here are eerie and minor, giving the whole song a sinister vibe that works beautifully.  The extended outro, almost an emotional response to the track's story (and the left turn it takes in the last verse), stays interesting to the end.  Yesterday is a song that should hit you emotionally - and hard - whether you want to admit it or not.  The optimistic piano, nostalgic rhymes, and twist ending are just too good to be denied.

Guarantees brings things to rock bottom, starting with a bluesy, pendulant guitar riff before kicking into more rhythmically crisp strumming and rhymes of hard luck and bad times.  Desperation bleeds through on this one; the duo really touched something here.  The next track, Me, is just what it says on the label - an autobiographical rant from Slug on the years past in his life and who he is, delivered in third person.  The cold, distant vibe from the previous song is still felt here, as the artist offers a piece of himself to the listener for review - but as the closing lines make clear - only a piece.

Wild Wild Horses brings things to a still-melancholy yet more upward-looking vibe, kicking the tempo up and employing floaty synths and fat bass to build a solid foundation for a yarn about young love.  It's sweet in its openness, and the energy of the track kicks hard enough to get the feet tapping, if you're in that kind of mood.
Can't Break, the last really triumphant stab of the album, and a perfect closing point for it in my opinion, builds to a triumphant climax in its choruses with it's high-flying, lush synth layering and anthemic singing.  Contrasted with the grittier, more choppy verses, it's a total package that I honestly stop listening to the album to after, since the review.

The Waitress tries, it does.  It's got emotional piano and another love letter to a waitress, but that's exactly the problem: it's another love letter to a waitress.  It's from a different perspective - the person who watches her - but it just comes off as a retread of familiar territory without much new ground covered.  Yawn.  The closer, In Her Music Box, pretty much causes the same reaction - it tries with good instrumentation, but resonates too hard with too many other tracks that came before it to still feel fresh.


  1. when life gives you lemons was DEFINITELY a dope release, completely new style from what atmosphere usually produced, a lot more personal and heart-felt. Definitely one of my favorite indie albums (but then again, i have a lot of favs :P)