DELUXE COLLECTORS' EDITION In addition to the full CD, this DELUXE COLLECTORS' EDITION features a special Digipak with bonus DVD (Entitled, "Worlds Apart Special Features"). The DVD features Live Performances, In the St... more »udio Footage, Band Bio, Home Movies, Gallery & Sketchbook.« less
DELUXE COLLECTORS' EDITION In addition to the full CD, this DELUXE COLLECTORS' EDITION features a special Digipak with bonus DVD (Entitled, "Worlds Apart Special Features"). The DVD features Live Performances, In the Studio Footage, Band Bio, Home Movies, Gallery & Sketchbook.
"Perhaps it's fitting that the first line Conrad Keely sings on the new album Worlds Apart is, "Close the door and drift away into a sea of uncertainty." Leading up to the release of this album, there was a considerably high degree of anticipation and, yes, uncertainty. Critics and fans alike were anxiously awaiting and wondering how the Trail of Dead would follow up their unanimously hailed masterpiece, Source Tags & Codes. And it's pretty safe to say that it's not what anyone expected.
From the small number of reviews on here and the larger number reviews in the press, it appears that two divergent trends are beginning to emerge. Everyone, it seems, is at first taken aback by and even apprehensive about the band's new sound and approach. Many are disappointed. Worlds Apart feels nothing like their previous three releases, which all seemed to reflect a progression toward the perfection of a particular sound and theme. Source Tags & Codes was, of course, the perfection of that progression. Here, I believe, lies the root of these two divergent reactions. Either a fan or critic adjusts their appreciation through further listening and focus, and they begin to love the album based on its own merits, or the fan or critic automatically rejects the band's new direction, and they hold the album up as a failure compared to their previous releases.
Worlds Apart is not a perfect album, though it's far from a failure also. Perhaps it's best to conceive of this new album as the beginning of a new progression with its own logic and motives - the perfection of which has yet to be realized. Based on the previous achievements of this remarkably talented and ambitious band, it's certain that a new object of musical perfection will be created again soon.
In the meantime we have this wonderful release to listen to and enjoy. As I'm not very good at actual criticism, I'll just say a few words about some of the new songs. Will You Smile Again? is, in my mind, the band's most epic and engaging song yet - and very nearly their best. And The Rest Will Follow is a fun and tender anthem, and it will probably serve as the album's first widely released single. You'll find yourself singing along to it almost immediately. Caterwaul exhibits Jason's usual beautifully aggressive songwriting, but the song's production gives it a more polished and focused intensity. The end of this song is so enjoyable and exciting that you just might end up accidentally jumping out your window. Finally, Let It Dive is such a sublimely timeless ode to the end of a relationship that you'll swear it's a song that's been with you forever. Perhaps it's fitting, again, that Conrad ends Let It Dive with the words, "What's done is done, no reason to apologize. Let it dive, let it die, let it fade...." Indeed, Worlds Apart marks the end of an era for the Trail of Dead, and there's no reason for anyone to apologize. Let it dive, let it die, let it fade. And let the new era begin.
Not Madonna. Not Source Tags. Still Great.
Scott Wells | Austin/New York | 01/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I downloaded a copy of the album something ridiculous like 4 months before it came out because I couldn't wait to hear it. The first time I listened to it, I was disappointed. There wasn't a song that had the barely-controlled chaos of "Totally Natural" or "Days of Being Wild." No songs had the same bleached-out vocals behind a mammoth wall of guitars like "It Was There That I Saw You." And there were no songs written or sung by Neil (who played on this album, but has since left the band).
But right about the 4th or 5th time listening through, I realized that I wasn't disappointed in Worlds Apart because of what it was. I was disappointed in it for what it wasn't. It wasn't Madonna. It wasn't Source Tags and Codes. Then I started listening to the album on its own merits and i began to notice layer upon layer of complexities that I hadn't before when I was sulking because it was different than ST&C.
Simply put, the album is a masterpiece. It make take a few listens, especially for old fans, but it's phenomenal. It's not as noisy or immediately awe-inspiring as ST&C, but that doesn't make it bad. That makes it different. And since when is artistic growth a bad thing? They didn't sell out to Interscope. They made ST&C while at Interscope!
Some favorite songs: Will You Smile Again For Me is epic in every sense of the word. Worlds Apart has a certain poignancy that has been ruined by everyone quoting the one line in there about MTV. And The Rest Will Follow is a phenomenal song on par with any of the melodicc songs on ST&C. Let it Dive reminds me of Another Morning Stoner from ST&C. All White sounds like the Beatles in their prime. Listen to the end of The Best and you'll hear a reprise of Worlds Apart which is also poignant in terms of the themes of the two songs.
If you're nostalgic for the old TOD, with the guitar smashing and noise and mayhem, go see them live. They still do that and play "Richter Scale Madness" and "Half of What" and it's a phenomenal show in its own right. But accept the fact that bands with talent grow musically over time. As much as I wanted another album full of songs like "Days of Being Wild" and "Mistakes and Regrets" and "Mark David Chapman," I know that I'll always have those songs and they won't be diluted by the band futilely attempting to duplicate them for the rest of their careers. So enjoy the album on its own merits and quit complaining about how good they used to be. No one cares about your indie cred."
100 steps forward, 98 steps back
J. Rossi | Downers Grove, IL | 02/04/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Trail of Dead's previous album proper, "Source Tags and Codes", was an unrecognized masterpiece, a gem of an album that was and is severely overlooked.
"World's Apart", however, is almost the exact opposite. Ideas are half-baked, the music is no longer raw and rawkus and doesn't really carry TOD's signature sound, and, overall, it seems like the band has lost its way, however briefly. I can appreciate the artistic craving to expand and experiment, but this album provides a testament to the contrary, and would have been better if cut down and combined with "Secret of Elena's Tomb."
'Ode to Isis' is a worthless throw away lead in track that segues into 'Will You Smile Again,' which starts off like we're used to hearing TOD sound - explosive, powerful - but it plods along in the middle of the track before finally closing as it began. The middle section of the song sounds like a Velvet Underground outtake with too-simple drums and bleating lyrics.
This album really starts with the title track, a short and rollicking commentary on the downfall of American culture. 'Summer of '91's balladeering sounds like the younger sibling or cousin of ST&C's 'How Near, How Far,' which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's slow pace doesn't sit well buffering the title track and 'The Rest Will Follow' (whose ringing guitars and pounding drums make this a standout track despite the half-assed lyrical delivery) but it is clear the band put a lot of thought into the track.
'Caterwaul' and 'Let it Dive' (about the disintigration of a once-fruitful relationship) are simply superb. 'Wolrds Apart' through 'Let it Dive' is unarguably the ablum's peak, save the completely worthless 'A Classic Arts Showcase,' which tries to make a poignant statement about our TV consumption but really says nothing.
'To Russia My Homeland' is a nice orchestral breather and 'All White' is thankfully short in its Pink Floydian tribute. 'The Best' is decent but not memorable, while closer 'The Lost City of Refuge' takes a cue from "OK Computer" and runs with it; it's a superb, mellow closer to the album.
This is clearly not TOD's best effort (in fact, in my opinion, it's their worst) but there are valuable gems hidden in the muck. Cut the first two tracks, 'A Classic Arts Showcase,' and 'The Best' and this album soars to a five-star diamond. Faithful TOD fans (as I consider myself to be, despite this unfavorable review) will find something to love, but this album doesn't deliver like we all hoped it would.
The DVD included with the collector's edition is interesting but not necessary. A video for 'All Saints Day' is artistic but not spectacular, and the documentary basically shows the band dicking around during the making of this album. I'm not sure who would be interested by the two separate art galleries and Conrad's essay on music, which are also included on the DVD, but they are on there.
Several earlier reviewers command us to judge this album on its own merits, which is nearly impossible to do for any album from a band with a successful and storied past. But I suggest they listen again, take their own advice and realize that, simply, some of these songs are severely substandard, and that the album could be better served by the deletion of two or three songs. I have listened to this album non-stop (I'm listening to it as I write this) and the only logical conclusion I can reach is that this is simply one blotch on TOD's otherwise spotless recorded output. I feel that the experimentaion shown here will coalesce with their traditional sound to form a unique and beautiful sound in the future, but "Worlds Apart" is really a showcase of growing pains."
What they're missing ...
J. T. Pedelty | 04/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I understand and even sort of agree with many of the above reviewers who complain that the album is more refined, more polished, more controlled, more mature. Sure, and so was Sgt. Pepper's, Wish You Were Here, OK Computer, Amused to Death and just about every other truly great, great album. This, hands down, is the best new album i've purchased since i bought Radiohead's OK Computer. Hands down. I think a lot of fans were expecting the moments of brilliance in certain songs that ToD displayed before. This is a complete album, not just a collection of songs. Nearly perfect."
Best band around
David Collins | 01/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is excellent. From what I have seen so far it has only received bad press, and I can't really figure that out given the quality here. The music is as gripping as ever. I dont know if this is some backlash against a band that has achieved critical acclaim and street cred, and is actually really really really good; regardless, don't be put off by the reviews."