An Album Review
Three things reminded me immediately of the better days of my college life: World of Warcraft, Pomegranate-flavored energy drinks and Ludo. Of these three things, the only I haven’t outgrown was Ludo. I was introduced to this alt-rock band from St. Louis by two of my best friends in college. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked Ludo. Their basic sound reminded me of a pop rock band. It was when I finally buckled down and paid attention to the lyrics that I fell in love with the band. Ludo writes all of their songs either from a nerdy perspective or about nerdy things.
One of their earliest albums, Broken Bride, is about a man who loses the woman he loves and instead of writing sad songs (as might be expected for a rock album) decides to fix this problem by building a time machine. The album contains an overarching story filled with zombies, dinosaurs and heartbreak. Broken Bride comes across as nerdy on first listen but even their more traditional songs have a hint of nerdiness to them.
Their most popular and successful song, “Love Me Dead”, is a classic “the person I love sucks” song. What isn’t cliched are the examples used to explain the horribleness of the girl in question. She is compared to everything from a TV evangelist to a party girl puking in his soul then asking for gum. Ludo has a very creative and nerdy way of writing even the most common types of songs.
Ludo released a new album, Prepare the Preparations, on September 7th of 2010. I immediately picked it up, listened to it and fell in love with many of its tracks. In the following review I will first talk about my general reaction to the album and then go song by song mentioning high points or interesting aspects.
This album is a seamless blend of the pop rock of Ludo (their first album), the dramatic flare and storytelling of Broken Bride and the rocking chart-toppers of You’re Awful, I Love You. Each album has worked on these features, mastering a specific one and then carried it forward in to the next album. (Example of this- There were rockers such as “Girls on Trampolines” and “Good Will Hunting By Myself” in Ludo but “Love Me Dead” is that genre worked to perfection). Prepare the Preparations is the natural evolution from its predecessors: containing and mixing all the perfected genres of the earlier albums while adding a few new tricks. If you’ve listened to and loved Ludo before, this album is a must own. Despite the above praise, I don’t think it is their best album (That would be Broken Bride). I do think it is as good as their previous albums, and has some of my top favorite songs by Ludo. Prepare the Preparations is great because it continues what is amazing about the band while stretching it beyond previous range.
If you’ve never heard of Ludo and wonder if this album is for you, ask yourself a few questions. Do you enjoy storytelling in your songs? Do you like nerdy things like a war between cyborg and robots, pirates, or love songs featuring leprechauns and witches? Do you appreciate a variety of genres in you general music tastes? If so, give some of the stared songs below a listen. Ludo might just become one of your favorite bands like it did mine. And if you like this album, definitely don’t stop here. All three of their albums are awesome listens. I’d recommend trying them in the order of: “Broken Bride”, “You’re Awful, I Love You” and then “Ludo”.
1. Too Tired to Wink- Good song but not in my top five on the album. Similar in genre to many of their songs on You’re Awful, I Love You; it rocks but only enough to make me lose a pair of anklet socks (as in rocks my socks off? Get it? Damn, that joke was bad. I apologize).
2. *Cyborgs vs Robots- My second favorite song on the album. Great topic, great energy and great instrumentation. I’ve heard reviewers say it is too busy sounding but as a person who enjoys Dragonforce, I can safely say it is just busy enough to convey the intensity they were going for.
3. *Whipped Cream- My third favorite song on the album. Like Too Tired to Wink, it reminds me of many of the songs on You’re Awful (particularly a blend between “Go-Getter Greg” and “Love Me Dead”) but I think this one due to shear hilarity of lyrics, rocking guitar part and the unlikely earworm nature of the refrain puts it in my top five.
4. *Anything For You- My favorite song on the album. I’m a sucker for this sort of mellow sound in general and previous albums have had good songs in this genre such as the hidden song “Boat Song” or “Topeka”. As well as being the best mellow song Ludo has ever recorded, it is both romantic, clever and funny all at the same time.
5. Manta Rays- Another good song that doesn’t make my top five. It is a more traditional mellow-styled love song. The lyrics are flavored by Ludo’s quirkiness but it isn’t as clever as “Anything for You”, keeping it from really standing out.
6. *Skeletons on Parade- A “Nightmare before Christmas” style musical number with the chorus (as in the musical theater type) and everything. One of the better songs on the album but I personally have to be in the right mood to really appreciate all the awesome word choices, jokes and guitar riffs due to its musical sound.
7. I’ll Never be Lonely Again- An oldies style love song, sweet and sad. This song would fit right in as a slow dance song at a 50s sock hop. Andrew’s voice is beautiful on it and it shows their range but it is not quite my cup of tea.
8. *All the Stars In Texas- My fourth favorite song on the album. It took me awhile to love this song but once I understood all the lyrics, I couldn’t stop singing it. A love song from the perspective of a bank robber to his girlfriend/partner-in-crime. The sound is odd and features the Moog rather extensively but it has good drive.
9. *Rotten Town- This is a song about pirates which is heavy on story but has a surprisingly good refrain. This is probably the best examples of their pure story song format on this album similar to “Lake Pontchartrain” but not as good.
10. Overdone- Musically, this song does some good things but I never could quite enjoy the lyrics. They are poetic and filled with strong emotions but it comes across as being as emo as Ludo ever will be.
11. *Battle Cry- Quiet literally a response to “We are the Champions” from point of view of the losing side. The anti-climax of the refrain makes me giggle while the Queen-style backing vocals and guitar make me want to rock. It is a great combo.
12. Safe in the Dark- Maybe my least favorite song on the album mostly due to my dislike of the extreme repetition of the line “everyone wants to feel safe in the dark”. Musically, it sounds cool and the call/reply structure of the choruses is interesting but the refrain kills the song for me.
13. Skeleton’s Lullaby- A tiny song that seems to be there partially to make the album have thirteen songs and partially to wrap up the musical that was started with “Skeletons on Parade”.