The Blue Van - Would You Change Your Life? – Album Review
By Pete Crigler
On their fifth studio album, Danish rock icons The Blue Van continue to stay fiercely independent. But they’ve started to add some new tricks to their old hat. The first track, “Tightrope” contains elements of Motown and Muse and adds in a bit of electronica in order to keep listeners on their tiptoes. The song is an interesting one and definitely a dynamic way to open up the record.
The title track sounds tailor made for radio - it could be a big hit on satellite radio and might be able to make the crossover to mainstream and garner The Blue Van some attention stateside. So far, the band has made a minor name for themselves as one of their early tracks was picked as the theme song for the popular cable drama “Royal Pains.” With the tracks heard on this record, they have a chance of being able to breakthrough in a big way.
Unfortunately, not every song on the record is a complete winner; “Harder than a Diamond” is one of those tracks that cannot and will not be recommended as a result of it coming off as too strange and hokey sounding. It’s something these guys should never have attempted as they’re capable of so much better. Luckily, they’re able to redeem themselves with “Diamonds,” which introduces dance floor beats to the mix, and while at first the track is a little off-putting, eventually everything settles together and ends up being another superb song that would be great on pop radio or on the dance floor.
The record picks up even more points with “Gospel of Dust”, which features some beautiful, delicate acoustic picking. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best and coolest tracks on the record. “Wake the Tiger” seems to take its inspiration from everywhere, thereby failing to focus, wandering aimlessly and losing any potential cohesiveness. Another bummer comes in the form of “Weary Eyes,” which is weak and seems to pull from the ‘70s singer-songwriter era. As a result, I’m unsure as to the direction of the band, as they should be able to pull everything together and make a great batch of songs that last a whole album.
To this writer, the album comes to a complete stop with “I Thought You Liked Me”, which is incomprehensible filler. Thankfully, things get back on track with “Zeroes” which is a much better put together and manages to maintain itself throughout as a standout on the record. “Live” is a very good mid-tempo track that works beautifully and sustains an uneven balance on the record.
“Take What You Need” likely would not have been missed, but “Stay”, on the other hand, works much better as yet another great mid-tempo track and continues the band’s attempt at balance.
The closing track of “An Eagle Dropping an Elephant” is an experimental instrumental, suggesting yet again that the band was having a slight personality crisis in the studio, so try as they might they weren’t able to pull it together as tight as it could’ve been. While the band is extremely tight musically and are able to come up with some really good stuff, it would’ve been nice if they’d been able to keep it going for an entire album.