REVIEW: Magic Is Might, Part 1

[Thank you for visiting The Wrock Snob and reading this article! I’d love for you to jump right into the reviewy goodness, but first there is some unfortunate business to take care of. It is not in my nature to tell you specifically what or what not to buy and who to support – I tell you what I thought about an album, and if my tastes seem to align with yours, you might want to heed my suggestions. However, I must take this time to personally exhort that you do not monetarily support the bands The Remus Lupins or Ministry of Magic. The full reasons are unsettling and possibly triggering, so please proceed with caution, but if you want the full details click here. Simply put, it has been revealed that certain member/s of both bands did destructive, upsetting, and highly problematic things. While I can see the value of reviewing art no matter what the artist did on a grand society-level scale, I cannot morally allow myself to condone the financial support of these monsters, nonetheless exhorting people to do so. Now it is entirely possible this copypasta’d retroactive warning was placed on a negative review, making this sidebar somewhat moot, but I still feel it necessary to make these matters clear. Again, for full details and rumination click here, otherwise, please enjoy the article.]

And now for 6000 words of blather and nitpicking! For realsies this time! And only 5 months after everyone stopped caring!

Let’s just jump right in, shall we? With the last article, we already covered my general thoughts on the album, so let’s just start with the first song on Ministry of Magic’s Magic Is Might, “The Hero, Pt. 2”.

Like I said in my very first review, despite my poor opinion of Onward & Upward, I was still looking forward to the next MoM album, and the track listing and album art did nothing but further my optimism – the dark, American-edition OotP cover art-inspired album cover, a title that alludes to one of the darkest parts of the series, and the fact that the first song was apparently a sequel to the very first song on the first MoM album, The Triwizard LP, “The Hero”, a song that has a lot of nostalgic resonance for me, and one I still listen to fairly often (the minute-long instrumental intro is one I hold up as one of the most triumphant and fitting album openers, ever).  So, imagine my disappointment when, after downloading the album, I click “play”, and am treated to the word “hero” sung over and over… and over.  Oh, and the phrase “I don’t wanna be one” is in there as well.

One of my biggest problems with O&U was that the lyric writing was often sub-par to the point of inanity, and “The Hero, Pt. 2” was not giving any indications that things had changed.  Look, repetition can be fine and even really damn good, both musically and lyrically, but you can’t just replace a chorus with one word repeated over and over – it doesn’t mean anything.  It doesn’t serve to effectively tell a story or get a point across.  It’d be like if Rush’s “The Trees” consisted mostly of Geddy Lee just singing the word “unions” over and over, occasionally overlaid with the phrase “rather lame metaphor” every now and then.  And you know what?  It’s even possible that it could have potentially worked, if not for the fact that the very insubstantial message brought across by the “chorus” DOESN’T EVEN FIT WITH CANON.  Heck, the entire song makes practically no sense.

Harry DOES want to be a hero, or at the very least, he would choose, eleven times out of ten, to be a hero in place of someone else being a hero.  Sure, he does feel some trepidation about dying – who wouldn’t?  But his parents, godfather, and favorite teacher, as well as thinking about making out with Ginny, steadies his resolve.  Plus, the rest of the song, the few bits that AREN’T repeated lines, don’t make any sense either.  The song is apparently about some hard-to-define time at the end of DH, either before or after Harry sacrifices himself, but neither makes sense:

Faster and faster, I run from the scene

At no point is Harry running in the entire final few chapters of Deathly Hallows – he walks to meet his fate, and is carried by Hagrid out of the forest.  So, the lyrics make no sense in terms of canon, aren’t true to the character, and are blitheringly repetitive.  As for the music side of things, it’s… okay, I guess, but it’s hard to find something catchy when it’s just THE SAME DAMN WORD OVER AND OVER, with little to no context, and you feel like an idiot singing along.  The ending section, though still highly repetitive (This ends now / This ends now / I’ll never lose it all but / This ends now, etc.) is actually kinda catchy, and the very very end is kinda cool.  Still, a merely passable final thirty-five seconds doesn’t make the full song anywhere near worth it.  One caveat: as with almost all of the songs on this album, there are some interesting things going on in the instrumental section, and I think an instrumentals-only version of Magic Is Might would be both fascinating, and a lot of fun (especially with really neat little sections like the chiptune bit at 2:15).  Make no mistake, there is some real musical and technical skill being shown off in the background, but as with most of the album, the vocals] melodies and lyrics make it impossible to appreciate.

I almost shut off “My Baby” right away, and not just because the title gave me considerable pause – the music was just so damn… happy… that I wanted to vomit.  However, I realized that my personal hatred for sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows shouldn’t be held against MoM, and the countless people who like such things.  And after all, there is definitely a place, and even a need for light, happy pop music, as long as the lyrics aren’t too terrible.  Unfortunately…

You’re so cute!

NEXT!

Seriously though, I did manage to listen to the whole song, and it’s… it’s bad, folks.  It’s really, really bad.  And I really can’t understand how they managed to eff up a love song to McGonagall and NOT make it funny.  Well, it is funny… but I suspect not entirely intentionally so.  Now, there are two ways this song could have been funny, and it fails in both ways.  The first way is by being over-the-top, blisteringly idiotic, and while it can get close, it was crippled before it even left the gates in this respect.  Why?  Because, I’m sorry MoM, but you can’t make an intentionally stupid/overly sappy love song if half of your career is built on stupid/overly sappy love songs.  It’d be like if Obama made an announcement that he would be once again naively caving to the Republican minority instead of being a President and, you know, getting shit done, and then later said “Hey, guys, I was obviously just kidding!”  You see, the problem is, NO ONE WOULD BELIEVE HIM.

Secondly, a love song to Minerva McGonagall is NOT inherently funny – there are a multitude of easy ways to make it funny, but the premise on its own is not a mirth mine.  Now, if it’s a love song from a student, that’s funny.  Or from certain teachers, like Filch or Trelawney, that could be really funny.  But the song contains ABSOLUTELY NO CONTEXT.  There are no hints given as to from whom the song is sung, not in general (student, peer, death eater, shop keeper, goblin, centaur, aardvark, etc.), and definitely not in specific.  As for the music, the main instrumental riff IS pretty fun, if almost painfully so, but the lyrics are so terrible, and the melody is only so-so.  And the thing is, I do believe MoM MEANT this to be ironic, but when you fail at being bad on purpose…

So, far, my thoughts on MiM have been that the instrumentation is highly competent and even interesting and fun, but it’s marred by atrocious lyrics sung in rather uninteresting melodies.  With that in mind, let’s dive into the lyrics of the third song on the album, “The Curse”:

The moon is out again

It always leaves a shadow

Of everything it shines upon

…..O-okay… then… Well, that was unusually factual and informative… but seriously, who does Ministry of Magic think they are – TMBG? What, is this a deleted track from Here Comes Science?  Actually, oddly factual and declarative openings beside, both lyrically and musically, this is hands down the best track on the album.  Firstly, musically, the chorus is (for once) fun as all hell, a real party-pumper that will be sure to become a live MoM setlist staple, and the verses are, while obviously less exciting, nice pallet cleansers, and let’s face it, a song can’t, or at least in most cases shouldn’t be all high energy all the time, unless it’s a minute or whatever.  Also, the differing tones and velocities of the chori and verses serve as brilliant parallels to the lyrics (OH SNAP AN ACTUALLY SEMI-COMPETENT TRANSITION, MARRED BY UNNECESSARY SELF-AWARE PARENTHETICAL STATEMENTS).

Speaking of which, the lyrics are unquestionably the best on the album, and some of the most interesting lyrics in all of wrock to examine the plight of werewolf, by both using completely different general methods from The Remus Lupins and Remus and the Lupins, as well as tackling specifics never really tackled by either, or any other band I’ve heard (caveat: I’ve yet to listen to The Rest Is Silence, and I know I really should… it’s on my list… also, I haven’t heard that hard-to-track-down album/EP that RatL made that isn’t their 2007 EP of the month club EP).  You see, while both Remus bands tackle the character of Remus differently, and both methods have their merits (though I personally like RatL’s teacher-focused version more than TRL’s rather fanficy [though nonetheless interesting] version), “The Curse” does something that is both obvious and rarely seen in werewolf songs – tackling the nitty-gritty about the actual transformation and how it works and what it’s like, as well as how much it sucks, while RatL tackles specifics but not the whole, like having to eat rats, hating the moon, hanging out with other werewolves, etc., and TRL tackles stuff like teenage!Remus’s relationships with those around him (as well as adult!Remus to a lesser extent), and the interesting social stigmas and things like that that arise from being a werewolf.  The one song from either of these bands that I can think of that comes close to what “The Curse” does is TRL’s fantastic “Origin” (which apparently has no non-live youtube videos or similar, unfortunately).

But more so than just exploring the hell that would be that transformation, “The Curse” explores it from a fascinating angle – that of the wolf.  Or at least it does in the fast-paced, frenetic chorus, while the more laid-back, even apprehensive verses are all from the side of the “were“, as it were.  For the first couple of listens, I absolutely loved the pump-it-up chorus, but found the verses surrounded the chori to be rather dull.  However, I eventually got the absolutely brilliant lyrical/musical connections that make for one of the most cleverly put together songs in all of wizard rock.  The verses are slower, claustrophobic, and dripping in melancholy, if not entirely catchy, but that works for setting the mood – you aren’t really supposed to remember the melody of this section, but rather the overall emotional tone.  Lyrically, they’re from the POV of a werewolf just before or thinking about transforming.

The first verse is especially good as Luke Conard gives what might be his best vocal performance on a MoM album to date.  Then, in the pre-chorus (which is like pre-cum but slightly less messy) the melody gets a bit catchier, the background takes melodies that were in the background and shunts them into the spotlight (again, let me reiterate that a instrumentals-only version of this album would be REALLY REALLY COOL), and the lyrics become self-resigned to the inevitability of the curse, a neat little bit of break down, and then we hit the chorus, which does something I have never seen (heard, whatever) done in wrock song – it forces the listener to be looking out through the eyes of a turned werewolf.  The music is catchy, pumped, and fun as all hell, and brilliantly, it’s actually sort of terrible stuff being talked about in the lyrics (cuz, you know, werewolves, are, well, wolves, and the chase and hunt and kill and eat things), but you just can’t help but giddily sing/shout along. And then BAM! we’re thrust back into the verses and reminded of the incredible pathos that such a disease would incur, and then the song’s cycle begins again, mimicking the lunar cycle it’s lyrically about. All-in-all a great song, and while not quite the “Lightning Struck Tower” this album desperately needed, it’s close.  Plus, let me put it this way – if I had to choose one of those two songs to be played from the heavens while being chased by angry fangirls, “LST” would just get me pumped and moving fast better, but “The Curse” has much more artistic merit – it’s no “Phoenix Lament” (the most beautiful song MoM has ever made and one of the greatest wizard rock songs of all time), but it’s up there…

Next up, we have “Lily”, which isn’t a wizard rock song.  Period.  NEXT!

“Don’t Leave” starts with the best, most pumpin’ bit of instrumentation on the entire album – wait, what?  What do you mean I can’t just state what is in my opinion incontrovertible truth (just like the evidence of the Dark Lord’s return) and then move on? Make valid points?  What the fuck are you on about?  Wait… *snicker*… “backing up assertions”… heh… “displaying actual knowledge of the album in particular, or even music in general”… *snort*… “not being an asshole who barely even posts” GUFFAW! Heh – I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time – thanks for that, I mean it.  Look, you’re obviously new around here kid – lemme tell you how it works – wait what?  What contract?  In whose writing?  MINE?  In blood?!  When the hell did I sign that?  …I did no such thing – especially not with a goat! I prefer ocelots.  O-oh… my… those are quite convincing pictures.  Hmmmm… I must have either been really drunk, or really, really sober.  Hunh.  Oh well, time to put on my reviewing dungarees…

So, “Lily”.  ….Yeah…  Okay, I’ll make this as short and painless as possible – “Lily” is not a wizard rock song, is not a Harry Potter song, it is not a meta-wrock song, it is not even a MoM song.  It’s an all Caps Song.  And not even a very good All Caps song at that (though granted the only All Caps song I really liked was “Summer of ’09”, and that’s only because the main bit rips off “Frog’s Theme” from Chrono Trigger so much it should be speaking in an anachronistic Ye Olde Times accent)!  Firstly, why it’s an All Caps song – it’s just Luke and Kristina – pretty obvious there.  But someone in the comments pointed out that that’s no reason to exclude a song from MoM-dom, you wouldn’t do the same to “This Town” for being a Luke/Ryan only thing, right?  And part of me agrees – far be it from me to say that all Ministry songs need all 17 or whatever guys contributing, and I can appreciate wanting to temper a vocally full album with some songs with just two voices (because a MoM song with only one voice would just be really, really weird).  Plus, I have nothing against Kristina on Ministry songs – she was the best part of Goodbye Privet Drive‘s titular track (though a voice I instinctually associate with Annoying, Stuck-Up, Yet Strangely Likeable Slytherin Pureblood playing the part of Hermione Granger is always a bit of a mental leap I need to take).  But on the other hand, Luke and Ryan don’t have a band with just them in it, as far as I’m aware, and if they do, then Luke Conard is officially a collab slut.

However, all of that would be moot and I would happily accept “Lily” as a Ministry of Magic song, exclusion of 4/5th, I mean 6ths, whatever, another one keeps popping up like they were fucking Dittos… actually Dittos can’t reproduce with each other… ooh, let’s just say that that “fucking” was actually a verb and not an… adjective? Maybe? Somebody help me out here.  Anyways, I would happily except “Lily” as a Ministry of Magic song, it being only Luke and Kristina notwithstanding (which is one of the clumsiest most WTF words in the English language)… IF IT WASN’T FOR THE FACT THAT IT ISN’T WIZARD ROCK.  I defy any of you to prove to me that “Lily” is anything more than a rather bland fill-in-the-blanks love song that has nothing to do with any characters we know from cannon, much less the ones this song is apparently supposed to be about, and I can only tell what the songs supposed to be about because of the fucking title!  Seriously, I welcome you to speak up – anyone who can shed light on why ANYONE would think that this is at all about Lily and, assumedly James, but for all we know it’s about Sirius or Snape or Remus or even fucking Peter.  Hell, for all we know it’s about Lily Potter, not Lily Evans!  In fact, I might actually buy that, since we know fuck-all about her character except that she’s Ginny, again.  Because apparently Jo had just flat-out ran out of ideas by that point.

Anyway, allow me to expand on this like I just grabbed a P-Balloon (incidentally, getting all the Dragon Coins in that fucking level is next to impossible – that and the fucking Sunken Ghost Ship).  You see –

WARNING – OPINION CHANGE IMMINENT

Wait, what the hell? Christ this article is getting all meta-narrativey as hell. Okay, instead of doing some “cute” thing like a few paragraphs ago, let me be direct: I had assumed this song was about James and Lily, but was insanely obtuse, and didn’t reference a single thing we know from canon about them, which admittedly, isn’t a lot, but hey, in that case, at least drop a seeker reference or something in there, y’know?  However, youtube comments inform me that this is a Snape/Lily song, and in which case, I need to revise my opinion completely.  You see, I was prepared to argue that this was simply an All Caps song that didn’t feature robots or WoW (which I just noticed is MoM upside down…) that they just threw into the album and titled “Lily” to pad things out.  However, if this song is actually supposed to be about Lily and Snape then I need to revise my position.  If this is true, then MoM are not, as I previously thought, lazy writers – they’re bad writers.

NOW I will expand like a Super Mario World reference, et cetera, et cetera.  I can now see why so many people glommed on to the… Snily? And the other would be… Lames? Limes? Jaly? Anyway, I can see why people pegged the song as Snape/Lily at first – with lines like “You are still my strongest memory” being a big tip-off, as well as “I knew straight away / On that day”, which is obviously referring to the whole playground scene, and while yes, they were only 10-11 yrs old, so he probably didn’t know he was instantly in love… of course, on the other hand, look at Ginny… on the other other hand she was probably just an early bloomer, and males in our species tend to hit puberty later… Anyway, this would be a big tip-off and I would be rightly called an idiot for not getting that this is a Snape/Lily, okay, Snily song if not for one fact – LILY SINGS THE AFOREMENTIONED LINE.  So, if this is a Snape/Lily song, it MAKES NO GORRAM SENSE.

In fact, IN GENERAL, if this is a Snape/Lily song, IT MAKES NO GORRAM SENSE.  Let’s just break it down line by line, shall we?

You are still my strongest memory
Whenever I close my eyes I see you clearly
Everytime my heart just skips a beat
Whenever you say my name I need you with me

Okay, leaving aside the confusing time dilation going on (how can Lily be calling Snape’s name if she’s now only a memory, as established in the opening line with the word “still”?), this is pretty straightforward Snily stuff from Snape’s point of view. Maybe with not as much angst and stuff as I’d like, but hey, there did have to be some times Snape actually felt… like, happy or optimistic or something. I guess. Okay, so far, so not terrible.

I am so nervous, I’ve thought for ages what to say
It doesn’t matter anyway

Okay, Snape being nervous, and pessimistic, I understand completely. Maybe he’s about to ask Lils out on a date, finally?

You are so ruthless, let me pursue it
You come around and I fall in love.

….WAT. What? What does this even mean?  On the list of character traits that describe Lily based on what little we know from canon, this is the LAST adjective I’d think to put on the list.  Hell, no matter which male this is about, this doesn’t make sense!  If it’s about James, that’s bullshit because she didn’t even like him for, like, ever, so she wouldn’t be “ruthless” in her pursuit of him, as How Airplanes Fly reminds us, it was the other way around.  And if it is about Snape then it makes even less sense, because, I hate to remind you all of this, LILY. DID NOT. LOVE. SNAPE.  Now, yes, she loved him dearly as a friend, and I’m sure there was a time she would have been open to being more than that with him, but IT NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED.  Or in the MoMverse, it did happen, just the same way that Harry met a man whose name was Albus, amirite?  Also, what does the line “You come around and I fall in love” mean?  Snape loved Lily LONG before she ever came around to loving him AND SHE NEVER CAME AROUND TO LOVING HIM.  Or does it mean that Lily came around the corner and he instantly fell in love at her sight? Or that she finger-banged herself and came so hard she went flying backwards, circumnavigating the entire globe, possibly with some Superman-style time travel shit? That’d be cool.
Next we have the aforementioned pre-chorus, which is like pre-cum, except… wait, I’ve already done that one, haven’t I? Damn.  This is the whole “I knew straight away / On that day” shit that’s sung from Lily’s perspective, and I’ve already covered that.  Then we repeat this first verse, which is actually the chorus, and this time Kristina/Lily starts singing as well.  Now, while musically I have nothing against that – harmonies are coo and all that jazz, but from the perspective of These Are Characters Singing Their Actual Thoughts And Feelings, it makes NO GORRAM SENSE FOR LILY TO BE SINGING THIS.  Now, it didn’t make much sense either back when I thought it was James/Lily, because you know, dead people don’t have memories, but maybe it was an obtuse play on the whole beyond the veil/resurrection stone stuff.  But let me state again – LILY. DID NOT. ROMANTICALLY LOVE. SNAPE.
Okay almost done (besides some repeated choruses and stuff):
You must admit it, you feel more different everyday.
I won’t even try to figure out what this could be referring to. Snape not being an asshole anymore? But even that doesn’t make sense, because he wasn’t an asshole really when they were at school, not until 5th/6th year when he lost his way, and even then he wasn’t really a true asshole, that wasn’t until he was an adult, and his prefrontal cortex had fully grown, and he was fully capable of rational thought, AND HE WAS STILL AN ASSHOLE (I have pity and sympathy for young Snape, but nothing but contempt for adult Snape).
But in such an exciting way!
THIS LINE.  THIS FUCKING LINE.  I don’t care who this bloody song is about, but this line pisses me off.  Why?  Because when sung by Kristina it is quite possibly the most sappy, sickening-sweet vocal performance of six words I’ve ever heard in my life – and I grew up on Telletubies! Thought they didn’t really sing things that were actual words, really… anyway…  It’s so sickeningly overly saccharine that that one line makes it so that I would rather listen to “Butterflies“. No, wait, on second thought, I’d rather watch “Crush On You“, though admittedly mostly for the incomprehensible rap/pillow fight scene at the end
You are the man for me
Me and you meant to be
You see, it’s stuff like this that made me always assume it was supposed to be a James/Lily song.  While with the memory stuff I can see how people would jump to Snape, lines like those above made it so in my mind, I’d never ever consider Snape, because, you know, LILY WOULD NEVER SAY THAT. Maybe, MAYBE she might have thought that when she was like, 13 or something, but they’d never actually sing a duet like this.
I would do anything for you.
Like let him call you “mudblood”? Ba dum pish.  So yes, in short (something that’s apparently impossible for me), I was originally going to let “Lily” off with the relatively light conclusion that it’s simply not a wizard rock song.  Now I am forced to change my conclusion to either it is just not a wrock song, or it’s an absolutely terrible wizard rock song that has absolutely nothing to do with the characters it’s supposed to be about, completely changes their personalities, motivations, and characters, and makes no effort to reveal why this song was even made.  To elucidate on my final point, I’m sure some will pipe up and claim “Hey, you say you like musical fanfic, so what’s wrong with this? It’s just musical Snape/Lily fanfic!”
Well, firstly, with only the barest of details to hint that this actually is about Snape and Lily, you can’t really justify that claim.  To make a wrock song that goes against canon, especially when it’s done in a serious, non-silly manner (unlike stuff like “Draco and Harry” or “Afterlife”), ESPECIALLY when it not just changes, but completely REVERSES one of the core truths of the entire series (Snape loved Lily but loved power too, made some huge mistakes, and kept doing all sorts of stupid stuff for her, and she loved him dearly as a friend, but moved on and found happiness with James), you need to ground everything in specifics pretty solidly.  Again, some specifics, like talking about greasy hair or something would have helped, but in this case that wouldn’t be enough.  We need some solid lines that point to this being an intentional reversal of canon, and not just Ministry forgetting how canon went again, which isn’t entirely implausible, given their track record (okay, that’s enough of harping on that song – to their credit they fixed it in the version that’s on the rather excellent Acoustiatus).
My astute readers will have no doubt noticed that in the preceeding 2466 words (holy shit, I really did lie when I said this would be quick) nowhere did I comment on the music.  So, briefly (and I mean it this time): It would take a monumentally impressive piece of music to make me look past these lyrics, and unfortunately, “Lily” is not such a song.  There are some bits between the verses where there’s some noodling on the synth flute or whatever that’s sorta fun, but beyond that, for an album that contains a lot of really interesting and/or fun instrumentals, “Lily” is a very disappointing, and ultimately bland track.  It’s just monotonous and boring, and the fact that the lyrics just plain suck and sometimes the vocal performances make me want to vomit sugar-encrusted rainbows doesn’t help at all.  “Lily” is far from the worst song on the album, because while the lyrics are pretty terrible from a canon perspective, they’re only just below average as just lyrics if you pretend it’s not wizard rock, and at least they contain more than one word.
So anyway.  “Don’t Leave” starts with the best, most pumpin’ bit of instrumentation on the entire album, and this instrumentation is part of what makes this the second best song on the album.  See, I earlier said that no song on this album quite reaches the same levels of the lone star in the darkness of the previous album that was “Lightning Struck Tower”, but both “The Curse” and “Don’t Leave” get close, but for different reasons.  See, LST was the perfect marriage of awesome, pumped-up vocals, and frenetic instrumentation, all interwoven with this richly dark atmosphere enhanced by the lyrics.  “The Curse” has amazingly fun vocals during its chori, and while the instrumentation certainly does nothing to detract from that, it doesn’t really enhance them either, but that’s not really a complaint – the song was built around the vocals being the star, I understand that.
On the other hand, “Don’t Leave” has the best instrumentals in the whole album, at least in the chori and transitional bits, ESPECIALLY the opening.  I seriously sometimes just loop those first 11 seconds because it’s so damn fun and dancey and what MoM music can be at its best.  Then the verses start.  Musically, they’re… okay, not bad by any stretch of the means, but only barely catchy, though I do like the instrumental callbacks to the main instrumental riff that punctuate every two lines – nice touch.  Anyway, the lyrics are… okay, again, like the music not bad, and unlike the next song they don’t just sit there, doing no ill but also doing no good and just being a general waste of space.  The lyrics do a competent job of getting into the heads of the trio during The World’s Worst Camping Trip Ever, without actually probing beyond the surface emotions or getting into any really deep or meaningful territory (not saying they’re bad, just extremely adequate)… that is until the chorus, when the awesome main instrumental melody returns, the vocals get super catchy, and the writing gets much better.
And I know it’s been
Such a long time
Since we’ve just been friends
And not soldiers on
The frontline of a war
That we were born into
As stated many times before, my favorite lyrics in wizard rock are those that make me see canon in a whole new light – and NOT the way “Lily” made me “see canon” (shudder).  Stuff like the exploration of Snape and Dumbledore’s frenemieship in JFF’s “Decisions To Make”.  That’s part of why I love this chorus so much (the other part being it’s fun as all hell musically) – I really like the idea of the trio, and really, their entire generation being “born into war”.  It’s a cool idea because it’s not actually immediately obvious.  The war doesn’t start until Book 5, really, and there aren’t any “frontlines” at all until Book 6.  Yet, on the other hand, the Dark Lord’s return was inevitable, and many on both sides were preparing for his return, or continuing their work in the war, whatever it may have been.  And as for the frontlines, those weren’t out wherever the Auror Department was, or were giants were causing chaos, no the frontlines were in Hogwarts, or on the Express – the social interactions between the students really is what made or broke the war.  Hell, the entire war really came down to two kids wrestling on a rug! Now, some of you may be itching to point out that almost nothing in this paragraph had really anything to do with wizard rock in general, or this song in particular, but that’s exactly my point – good wizard rock should inspire someone to think whole paragraphs or more about canon in a way they never had before, and “Don’t Leave” is good wizard rock.
Unfortunately, it isn’t great wizard rock.  While the verses truly aren’t bad, the choruses are just so fucking fun that the verses just seem like dull slogs by comparison, and there isn’t even any cool artsy reason for the slow choruses like in “The Curse”.  Also, while I love the vocal melodies in the chori, the vocal performances in the whole piece are not the best on the album (especially on the third verse), and there’s a few mixing issues here or there, but they smack more of something that was either overlooked or couldn’t be fixed, in contrast to the horrendous intentional mixing flubs in Onward & Upward, and I much rather weather the former than the latter.  Or the ladder.  Fucking hate those things.  Anyway, despite these flaws, “Don’t Leave” is still a good song, and one I hope gets adapted into MoM’s regular setlists, just because the instrumentals are so fucking cool.
Next up, “This Town”, a song which I  really just can’t be bothered to write much about.  It’s not a bad song necessarily, and it’s not a good song either.  It’s just a not very interesting song.  It just sort of sits there, like a live bloated pigeon on your dinner plate – sure it’s technically a filling poultry dinner, but it’s also not really food, and you just can’t care enough to shove it into the fire, or to shoo it from your plate, so you just end up sitting there, staring at it as it stares at you, big, unintelligent eyes blinking stupidly every minute or so.  Okay, let me describe it for a little bit as if it were a song, which it is, and not a large pigeon, which it is not (for one, large pigeons are not yet available through digital distribution, how I obtained my copy of MiM).  This song is just… uninteresting.  It isn’t necessarily bland or boring per se, though it does teeter off into those gray alleys a few times, but it just doesn’t cause interest in the listener.  A song about the action-packed scene of breaking into and out of Gringotts should be fun and fast-paced, maybe even bombastic – something along the lines of “Lightning Struck Tower” or “Old Enough To Die”, or at the very least something interesting.  I just can’t be arsed to care about this song.
Here are the few things I can think of to say: My main problem with this song is that sonically, it’s very cluttered – there’s just too much going on, and while that could have made for a painful, if intriguing mess, it just turns everything sonically into a monochrome mush – like when you mix all your paints together, you don’t get a spazzy rainbow, you get fucking brown or puce or something like that.  I like the opening instrumentation, and the bit from 1:40 to 2:00 is the only time the multi-layered instrumentation really works, all the pieces seem to fit together and belong there.  But otherwise, it’s just too much.  Now, far be it from me to say all songs should be minimalist pieces featuring only acoustic guitars in an empty room and the occasional castanet, and I really like songs that have an aurally “rich” or “full” song.  But this song is too full.  It’s the difference between a nice lean cut of flank steak, with some mashed potatoes, maybe some peas, and something bubbly to wash it down, and taking on the 72-oz steak challenge – it’s just too bloody much to possibly be appetizing, or any good.
Christ, this song is inspiring some weird metaphors.  I must be hungry or something.  One last note one the music – the only time I liked the sound of the song as a whole when there was singing going on was during the 2:40 to 3:00 section, in which the instrumentation was massively scaled back, and we could focus and a few melodies and counterpoints instead of OH GOD TIDAL WAVE OF INCOMPREHENSIBLE SOUND.  As for the writing, it gives a decent summary of the events and has some nice little rhyme schemes, but there isn’t much else.  There are a couple nice lyrical twists, like the breaking into/out of callbacks/reversal, and I like the “shallow graves” line a lot.  On the other hand, there’s no mention of what actually happened in Gringott’s, and while I sort of like it, using the song itself as a bookend to an event that isn’t described by the song, on the other hand, I really like the scene in Bellatrix’s vault, so there’s a bit of personal disappointment there.  However, worse than that is that the rhymes and lines really start to go off the edge at the end.
Came in with the sword, left with the cup
Holding tight as I can onto this runaway truck
 I dunno, but it always bugs me when people use muggle objects as metaphors in wizard rock songs.  And yes, while “cup” doesn’t really have a lot of true rhyming buddies, why not go with something in the very close “upt” family, like “erupt” or “abrupt”?  I can totally see how that could work into a line about riding A FUCKING DRAGON, it’d be a hell of a lot closer a rhyme than an “uck” word, and IT WOULDN’T RANDOMLY START MENTIONING MUGGLE STUFF.  But wait, there’s more!
Feel the cool of Diagon Alley
Fly through the doors on this dragon rally
Oh God, it’s like we’re back in “Lily” again – WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN?! To be fair, I really like the first line, it evokes a feeling of the wind rushing against your face without actually saying “feeling the cool wind rushing against your face”, but the second line is nigh incomprehensible! Firstly, this couplet skullfucks the very idea of sequential time – how the hell is Harry feeling the cool of Diagon Alley BEFORE he flew out of Gringott’s doors?  Or is this some other pair of doors we’re referring too?  The famous giant doors guarding Diagon Alley perhaps?  Or maybe some doors just hanging out in the sky?  Or hell, maybe they took a quick detour to space and had to break through some SPACE DOORS?!  Or maybe, just maybe, Ministry couldn’t figure out how to end the song so they just half-assed it.  Of course even THAT doesn’t make sense because the solution is so mind-numbingly simple it makes me cry – JUST REVERSE THE DAMN LINES.  They’d almost fit perfectly with the scansion if you did so, and it wouldn’t take much pushing things around to get them to work.  And before I forget, a dragon “rally”?  Really?!  Any fucking dictionary would tell you that the noun form of “rally” means a group or gathering – WHICH MEANS MORE THAN ONE.  THERE WAS ONLY ONE DRAGON. Seriously, MoM, do we need to do counting lessons again?
Also, I decided to reread parts of canon to verify that there was indeed only one dragon mentioned in canon, and not anything that could be called a “rally”.  However, I did find a reference to “fresher air” a page before the dragon bursts through Gringott’s doors.  However, I maintain that this does not at all remove any of the stupidity of the above lines, but actually increases it!  Air was getting fresher, and I guess cooler, INSIDE GRINGOTTS, they were still many many feet below the ground, and rising, but still well away from any air from Diagon Alley!  So it makes me wonder why have that line in the first place, directly mentioning Diagon Alley when it wasn’t in canon, when ALL IT SERVES IS TO NONSENSICALLY RHYME WITH RALLY! In short, THESE. LYRICS. SUCK.  On the plus side, I ended up talking quite a bit about this song!  Hooray?
Now, a quick aside about the title, yes I already did a Magic Is Might multi-part series, but I neglected to include one part of that series – THE FUCKING REVIEW.  Yes, I did do a concise review, but I have learned that I just can’t do concise negative reviews – people will expect me to back everything up.  So, while I can understand people being like “Really? Another fucking MoM article? After all this time?” please understand that this has been sort of an Albatross ’round my neck that I’m glad to finally be getting rid of.  Also,  we are now halfway through the album, and this is already the longest article I have ever posted, and a 12,000 word article would just be ridiculous.  Check back Wednesday for the final half, and then again on Friday FOR ACTUAL CONTENT! NOT ABOUT THIS FUCKING ALBUM!  Also, today marks the 1-anniversary of this site, and everything I said in the previous article is true – thank you all SO MUCH.  Well, everything except the hiatus bit.  I’m back, baby.  So, if you made it through this mountain of verbiage, congratulations, and why not come back for more on Wednesday?  Bring your own shovel.
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44 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ladysugarquill
    May 17, 2011 @ 07:57:22

    I think you’re wrong about My Baby. I find it catchy as hell and awfully cute.

    does something I have never seen (heard, whatever) done in wrock song – it forces the listener to be looking out through the eyes of a turned werewolf.
    I think The Curse Breakers’ “Full Moon” did it as well. *is just trying to be annoying*

    However, I mostly agree with your criticism of “Lily”. The only bit I don’t is when you say the song is “bland” – I think it’s beautiful. But, if it is James/Lily, then I think (and I posted this on their video when they first put it up) it’s too generic to be WRock. And if it’s Snape/Lily, then it’s not canon-compliant.

    Yet, you seem to like Split Seven Ways. I do too, but she ships Remus/Sirius hardcore. That is not canon either. And some of her Snape/Lily songs also imply Lily was in love with Snape – again, not canon. So I think the main problem with that song is not that it may ship Snape/Lily, but that *we don’t know who is it about*.

    I think “This Town” is a beautiful song, but sligtly weird. The lyrics are amazing, the music is amazing… but the music doesn’t fit with the lyrics! XD It’s a nice, mellow song about breaking into fucking Gringotts and escaping on a dragon! I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I just always found it kinda odd.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 17, 2011 @ 10:28:54

      Re: My Baby – The opening instrumental bit is the only catchy thing in the song for me, and I find the lyrics so stupid, and so awash in auto-tune that it’s practically distasteful. But hey, we couldn’t really get anywhere arguing purely our own opinions.

      Secondly, oooh, I love The Curse Breakers! Only band I know that was able to make Garageband loops interesting to listen to! Anyway, I relistened to Full Noob, HOLY HELL AWESOME MISTAKE, I mean “Full Moon”, and for almost the entire song, it’s from the POV of a dude (or dudette really – mustn’t be hasty) who has been bitten already, and is recounting being bit, or being *about* to change, or actually changing and the pain associated therewith. However, there is one line when she’s fully changed: “Once the pain was over / there were smells and sounds and sights I’d never / Had before / I wanted more / And ran into the night”. However, I differentiate this style of lyric from “The Curse”. Why? One word – perspective. You see, even though it’s about being a changed werewolf, those lyrics are not from the POV of the wolf, but from the perspective of the were. These lyrics are in the past tense – it’s a perfectly rational human filtering the past events of a time when they were irrational through their once-again rational brain. Whereas there are parts in “The Curse” where the lyrics are straight from the mouth/snout/whatever of the animalistic wolf – you are entirely inside the mind of the animal, fearing the return to humanity. Brilliant stuff.

      RE Lily – eh, I don’t really like the music much at all. But hey, to each their own and all that. And I absolutely agree with the James/Lily thing – that’s what I thought it was at first, and my original assertion. Now, here’s the thing about S7W, and Wolfstar ship songs in general – Zoe (screw those dot things – I’m lazy) has this remarkable talent for not naming names, but making sure you know who all the characters in the song are, a relevant example being “Brightest Star”. You see, as I say in the article, I am totally fine with non-canon ships, BUT YOU NEED TO ESTABLISH DAMN WELL WHO THE CHARACTERS ARE AND WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. Also, I’d prefer it not just to be a “fluff” piece of music if it’s about a non-canon ship, giving no reasons for why this ship is even happening, you know? An obvious exception is made for silly songs, like Draco and Harry, et cetera, and even that song has some reasoning behind its ship. But here’s the thing about a lot of Wolfstar songs – they AREN’T non-canon! Look at “Brightest Star” and GCR2’s “The Moon And The Stars” – there is nothing in those songs that contradict canon. They mention Tonks, and deal with all that, and we’re never inside Remus’ head in the canon, and the version of the ship they represent is one in which not a single detail contradicts with any factual evidence from canon.

      On the other, hand, “Lily” COMPLETELY REVERSES CANON. WITH ABSOLUTELY NO CONTEXT EITHER. Now, my favorite Wolfstar song is “Give Me The Moon” by The HMS Wolfstar, and it is essentially an aforementioned “fluff” piece – it features no context for their relationship, we just need to assume that these two characters are in a flourishing romantic relationship, which I don’t buy ever happened in the books. I can buy Remus holding a candle for Sirius and keeping it hidden all those years, but not anything actually happening. However, “Give Me The Moon” *is* more than fluff – it’s not just about how much Remus and Sirius wuv each other – it really gets into Remus’ psyche and all his fucked-up mental stuff caused by societal ostracization, and probably plenty of unnecessary guilt about it all – survivor’s guilt and all that. Whereas “Lily” is a completely fluff piece that doesn’t get into anyone’s psyche or reveal anything interesting or worthwhile about the characters WHILE not just being non-canon-compliant, BUT COMPLETELY BREAKING AND REVERSING CANON. So, yeah. Also, I for one completely buy that Lily was at one point open to the idea of being romantic with Snape – I think that there was truly more than friendship bubbling under there, and possible, but Snape loved himself too much, even though he didn’t really realize it, and HE broke his chance with her, and she moved on a hell of a lot better than he ever did, and and Snape, instead of internalizing the guilt and blaming himself too much, externalized that guilt into hatred.

      Lastly (damn, this is long), I completely agree on the lyrics not fitting the music, however I didn’t harp on that too much because later in the album, there’s an even more egregious example of this. Thanks for all your thoughts and comments!

      Reply

  2. Michelle
    May 17, 2011 @ 08:21:12

    “a love song to Minerva McGonagall”

    Tom Riddle and Friends already did this, to perfection and hilarity, so it didn’t need to be attempted again. No surprise that MoM failed.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 17, 2011 @ 09:54:00

      I’m not gonna say that an idea already been done before precludes it from ever being done again, but I will agree that TRAF! are pretty freakin’ cool.

      Reply

  3. KateKintail
    May 17, 2011 @ 11:51:17

    I have disagreed with you in the past, especially when it comes to MOM’s O&U, which I actually liked, even in comparison with their best songs. When this album came out, I wrote up a 5+ page review and then never posted it because it was filled with harshness that stemmed from what I thought was disappointment. I’ve listened to the album maybe 100-120 times since then and, no, the harshness back then was justified.

    I agree with you on SO many general points here, though some specifics differ. There’s nothing I like about The Hero Pt. 2 apart from the title and the harmonizing at the end.

    I dearly love the tune & sound of “My Baby” though the lyrics are the most dreadful thing in the world. If you’re going for a song with a clever love twist, you have to make me buy into it with clever lyrics that are specific to the character. And these are the weakest lyrics imaginable. The one line about “you’re the cure that transfigures my poor lonely heart” is the best line in the song and comes closest to being relevant to the character, but the rest is bloody awful. And though I LOVE the music, the sound of it would work better in a song about, I don’t know, anyone else. If it’s a love song for Minerva you have to have bagpipes. It’s a rule. No, it’s a law. I declare it! Bagpipes are a necessity!

    I seem to dislike “The Curse” more than you, though (Remus is my favorite character; I’m very particular about my werewolves). There’s nothing I like about this song apart from the very first line, which is a nice nod back in time. Side note: I know many people say it’s not TRL’s best album, but I adore The Rest is Silence. It’s one of my favorite WRock albums ever.

    Lily… OMGWTF. At first I thought it was Harry thinking of Lily (“strongest memory” would work for that, considering what he sees/hears when dementors attack–ohh, that sounds like a show on the Nature channel “When Demendors Attack!”), but if it’s Harry, then some of the love portions are really, really creapy. Then I thought it was James, but then the line about her knowing “straight away” doesn’t make a bit of sense because it took her 6 years to warm up to the fellow. Then I thought it was Snape, but the only way that would work with canon is if Snape is completely out of his mind and misremembering events to in a very sick sort of way so he can justify the past 20 years or so of his life. And considering his obsession, the last page of a letter he stole, and his fascination with Harry’s eyes… maybe he is a whole lot more mentally ill than I imagine him to be. But I really don’t want THIS SONG to be the basis for me questioning Snape’s level of sanity. And considering this is MoM who play up the sane, heroic aspects of Snape in their songs, I can’t imagine why they would put this out there as a Snily song to make me doubt everything I’ve come to think about Snape. I must admit, as much as I hated it, I did love it when I saw the music video. Maybe it’s a rotten WRock song. Maybe it’s not even a good ALL CAPS song. But I really loved the song with the video. It just worked for me in that context.

    Honestly, though, I would have bought the entire album just for “Don’t Leave.” I. Love. It. That chorus makes me tear up every time, without fail. There’s so much power in the meaning and even just a bit of rough anger in their voices (particularly the words “not” and “front line” in the line “and not soldiers on the front line of a war”). Like you, it made me see things in a slightly different way, made me explore one more aspect of the Potterverse. I’d never really thought about how they were born into it… and if Ron & Hermione just hadn’t happened to have been in Harry’s year or even Harry’s friends, they wouldn’t have been on the front lines, having to confront the unimaginable things that no one else had to see. Harry was the Chosen One, the boy in the prophecy, yeah, I knew that. But being born into a war that doesn’t even really exist until he’s, what, 14? 15? (I guess it depends what you define the war’s start to be, officially). I don’t know, but it’s extremely powerful to me. I love this song. Hard. I have proposed marriage to it at a major sporting event via jumbotron but was tragically rejected. It is entirely possible I shall never love again. Oh, what am I saying? I still love it.

    Also, THANK YOU for bringing up the “dragon rally” bit. The song is fun and enjoyable but that lyric makes me cringe every time. What does that even mean?! I think of a monster truck rally, with dragons gathering and competing for dominance. Or I picture a bunch of dragons getting together to fight crime ala the PBS kids show Ghostwriter. It’s so painfully bad. There’s a song I keep running into on the radio that the force rhyming reminds me of… but I can’t remember what it is now. Next time I hear it and cringe, I’ll take note.

    Maybe I’ll go dig up my review of the album and then chicken out over posting it yet again.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 17, 2011 @ 13:49:13

      Quick reply before I read it all – 100-120 TIMES? REALLY? Wow, I could NOT do that. If I don’t like something, I don’t listen to it… unless I have to because I’m writing an article…

      Reply

      • KateKintail
        May 17, 2011 @ 14:07:17

        I burned it to CD and it’s in my car. Whenever I finish an audio book, it’s the disc closest to the player and in it goes. After a few days of it on repeat during my commute, I remember to grab a new book to earread. And sometimes I need MoM to get through a Monday or Friday at work so it’s on that playlist as well. When I get a new CD I listen to it over and over again for weeks (my friend calls it the honeymoon stage). I don’t count, though. 100’s just a ballpark. I’m sure it MUST be over 40 because that’s what iTunes at work tells me; I’m just guestimating with many, many hours of driving in the car between the day it came out and now (and, to be honest, that’s not full listens because sometimes I go crazy if I’m stuck in a car and have to listen to “Harry Potter is Dead” one more time)

        Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 17, 2011 @ 14:03:36

      DUDE. A MoM song with bagpipes could be REALLY FRICKIN’ COOL! Also, I REALLY need to listen to Rest Is Silence. It’s sitting there, taunting me… As for The Curse, I just love the way the music mirrors the words, and I love looking at things through the eyes of the actual wolf. OH SHIT And I never mentioned in the article that there might be a Duran Duran reference hidden in there. Oh narf burgers. Yeah, music videos can really shape and change a song – the music video for “Don’t Leave” made it grow on me – I wasn’t a huge fan of it at first – and the only thing I really really really like in “This Town” is not even in the song, but the shots in the tunnel in the music video. Those are cool. And imagining them dragging a piano out into the field. Or maybe the “rally” line is like Dragon Tales, another PBS show? They don’t really fight crime, though – they just, you know… look for flowers and stuff. Lastly, I heartily encourage you to post the review of the album, and not because I desperately want other people dissing this album online, but because I really really want other people looking at wrock critically and discussing it. Reviews, no matter their opinion, as long as they are thought out and offer food for thought are awesome, and wizard rock needs more of them!

      Reply

      • KateKintail
        May 17, 2011 @ 14:24:45

        So true about music videos. Actually, their music video for House Song, though cute, made me like the song a lot less.

        The problem with me writing reviews is that I’m just a fangirl. I “know what I like” and I hate it when that kind of look it taken to art… which is kind of why my music blog went pftt. If I want critical looks at art, I look at the “experts” or people with at least a smidgen of knowledge in music (my years playing the clarinet in school totally don’t qualify as background for a critique). I’m just an overly squeeful fangirl who knows when to clap during Bravest Man I Ever Knew and has to nudge friends at concerts to cue them *shrug* But maybe I’ll try to track the review down and revise it to a point where I’m not entirely embarrassed posting it.

        As for a Duran Duran reference, okay, I definitely didn’t pick up on that one in The Curse. If there is one, that is kind of freakin awesome 🙂 And, yeah, I agree it’s a great POV to play with for a change. (But there IS a blatant Hungry Like the Wolf reference in TRL’s “The Wedding” so, yeah, dig that copy of The Rest is Silence out right now! I like his song about the Ministry falling better than the one on Magic is Might anyway… though I think I like Tonks & the Aurors’ Fallen even better… man, it’s pretty awesome when you can pick a tiny event from a book and easily find half a dozen songs written about it. I love Wrock!)

        Dragon Tales *snort* Great. Now I’ll have the theme song stuck in my head all night while volunteering at the library. That thing is so catchy.

        Reply

        • wrocksnob
          May 17, 2011 @ 14:48:55

          I have no real background knowledge or training beyond just listening to a lot of music my whole life, knowing the basics of song writing, or at least some song writing theory pretty well, and having some friends who are, like, music majors and stuff. The only way to get better at writing about music is to start, and then keep doing it! Also, I’ve had the teletubbies song stuck in my head, and I think that’s far worse.

          Reply

      • KateKintail
        May 17, 2011 @ 14:27:05

        Oh, and MoM with Bagpipes YES PLEASE! Where can I start a petition going for that…

        Reply

  4. KateKintail
    May 17, 2011 @ 12:24:17

    Two more things. 1- I love the idea of it being Lily Luna/someone. Yes. I can buy into that. That would make my head stop hurting *kicks ambiguity out the window*

    2- My favorite way to listen to the original Ascendio is to think of the bit with meeting a man named Albus is to think of that as Tom Riddle’s POV. The two are very similar and Tom is so bent on becoming great and assembling his own family and people who love him. I actually really thought that the first verse was Tom and the second verse was Harry. And then, later, when I heard them change it to Hagrid, I was devastated. I mean, the parallel is still there… and the end is a little haunting anyway so it still works tone-wise for me. But it was suddenly less interesting as a song just about Harry.

    Okay. I shall shut up now.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 17, 2011 @ 13:51:07

      Hmmmm… seeing it as Tom and *then* Harry is interesting. I never thought of that, though when I first heard the song, I instantly thought it was about Tom, and thought they were making some really cool parallels and stuff, even though the whole “I’ll be a hero” stuff didn’t quite mesh, but whatever… And then we found it wasn’t cool artistic lyrics, it was just forgetting canon! HOO-RAY.

      Reply

    • David K
      May 17, 2011 @ 19:35:41

      I love the idea of it being Lily Luna/someone. Yes. I can buy into that.

      Lily Luna/Lysander Scamander…CIGAW?!?

      Lysander might be a bit young for Lily Luna, though…given that Luna and Rolf married rather later. But who am I to judge…?

      Reply

  5. Anna Semple
    May 17, 2011 @ 14:22:16

    Firstly, I’d just like to say how long I waited for this! You said you’d do a really long review… and it never came. So thank you so much for doing it, it made me so happy! 🙂
    (Also, I’m meant to be revising for my GCSE’s right now…)
    I agree with you about The Hero, Pt 2. There are some songs I just don’t ever enjoy and that is one of them. The Hero Part 1 is so good as well!
    I liked My Baby, actually 🙂 Did you see the runner up in the Youtube video competition, the one where a girl interpreted it as a Slytherin student? I found it really funny, and if only for that, I like the song. Not their best, but I liked it.
    I haven’t listened to The Curse so I won’t pretend to have any insightful thoughts on it.
    I disagree with you completely on Lily. Completely. While it DOES feature the two members of All Caps but it has a member of MoM and a “guest” voice or whatever. I believe it is Wizard Wrock, as you interpret it AS Lily/Snape. It’s like saying Don’t Leave is not Wrock (well apart from the locket bit…)
    I believe it’s a really, really beautiful song. It’s one of those ones that crept up on me- when I first heard it I thought “Gosh, this is bland.” But I listened to it more, and now I love it. Weird how that happens.
    I don’t want to be rude, but I think sometimes you go a little overboard on lyrics analysis :’) I just think it’s a really nice song that sounds great and is about Snape and Lily. I guess you could interpret it as James/Lily anyway.
    And your point about her not loving Snape… as you said, she DID love him, maybe just as a friend but still. Love. 🙂
    (Also, the video is beautiful.)
    Don’t Leave… oh my god, that song is incredible. I love it so much. As you say, its message is unusual and really great. I believe the music and lyrics are just brilliant.
    I just feel like it’s so deep. It really makes you think below the “We killed Voldemort, everything is gonna be GREAT” kind of view. It really shows what they had to deal with to achieve that and how it’s a real world dealing with real people. I’m expressing myself all wrong, I just get annoyed when people think Yay Voldemort’s dead without thinking about the true cost.
    I’m surprised at your view of This Town. It might be my favourite one on the album. It doesn’t sound cluttered at all to me.
    I agree about the “runaway truck” bit, actually. Never thought about that before.
    I really, really love your reviews. They’re so beautifully detailed, even if sometimes I read it and think “oh my god, this is completely crazy, this person’s brain is WEIRD.”
    Okay, that sounds more offensive than I meant it, it’s just sometimes you… go onto weird things. Like pre cum? Seriously? XD
    I’m looking forwards to Wednesday! 🙂

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 17, 2011 @ 14:45:57

      No offense taken, my brain IS weird! Let me first say I really appreciate and respect you for enjoying my reviews while disagreeing with them! As for the lyric analysis – I can totally understand that, but I am very lyrically minded and driven dude, so I really enjoy and find fascinating breaking down lyrics. That’s not to say all songs must have amazing lyrics, I have a soft spot in my heart for Bubblegum Europop type stuff – Aqua and Cascada and stuff – terrible lyrics, almost so bad they’re good, but really really fun music. However, lyrics like “Lily” and “My Baby” are so bad as to ruin my enjoyment (also a lot of europop drowns out the terrible lyrics with the music, which doesn’t happen here – just a different style of music). Also, yes, love is still love, but “Lily” is CLEARLY about romantic love, which makes NO GORRAM SENSE WITH SNAPE AND LILY. Also, I like the idea of “My Baby” being from the POV of a Slytherin student. See? That’s funny! But the song? NOT FUNNY! Why? THERE’S NO INDICATION WHO THE HELL THE LYRICS ARE FROM! So, yeah. Thanks for your comments and kind words, and sorry about the wait!

      Reply

  6. WRocker
    May 17, 2011 @ 15:10:39

    Damn, it’s been a while since I listened to this album. I went back and listened to it for the purposes of being up-to-date for this review, even though I would have liked to take some songs out. I agree with you on about 75% of the article. Hero, Part 2 was the biggest letdown in the history of wrock (maybe aside from this album). The first Hero is one of my favorite MoM songs and maybe even one of my favorite wrock songs. Needless to say, Part Two was just awful.

    My Baby: wtf? Didn’t understand the purpose of this song. Very annoying melody and nonsensical lyrics.

    The Curse: I don’t find this to be the best song on the album like you do, just because the music does not fit the lyrics. Very dark lyrics should equal dark music. I didn’t get that vibe. Though I will say good job on pointing out the dynamic changes. Listening to it again, I like the way MoM made the verses softer than the chorus.

    Lily: Gtfo of a MoM album, All Caps.

    Don’t Leave: Easily my favorite song on the album. I thought Ryan did a great job with the music and lyrics on this album. It all just made sense and did well with getting into the minds of the trio on their journey, like you said.

    This Town: My second favorite on the album. I found it odd that it was just Luke and Ryan, but I’ll live with it (especially because they’re both members of the band and sang about Harry Potter canon on a wrock album. *cough*Lily*cough*). I agree with you on the “dragon rally” line, though. What the fuck does that mean? I’m not as nitpicky with the sequencing as you were and overall, I was pretty satisfied with the song, especially because it wasn’t all electronic for a change.

    So, Mr. Snob, my question for you is: What’s wrong with the Ascendio lyrics? On The Triwizard LP, they were about young Tom Riddle, and on Acoustiatus?

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 17, 2011 @ 17:27:11

      Here’s the shocking truth – Ascendio ISN’T about Tom Riddle. At all, actually. I know it seems like it, and like they’re making some grand point and some really cool parallels between Tom and Harry. The truth? They just forgot canon. See, I suspected this for a long time, because the whole “I’ll be a hero” bit just didn’t fit with Little Tommy Riddle (he was a son of a gun) for me, and on Acoustiatus the change the semi-infamous “Today I met a man whose name was Albus” line to “Today I met a man whose name was Hagrid”. So yeah, not cool, intelligent writing, just forgetting canon. Disappointing, I know. Of course, I feel that was completely made up for by the greatest song they’ve ever made and one of the best wrock songs of all time – “Phoenix Lament”, but hey.

      Reply

  7. Sam H.
    May 17, 2011 @ 17:45:04

    Snob! I’ve been waiting for this article forever (although you knew that due to the number of times I have bugged you about it :P).
    1. Love the review. I am basing whether or not I will buy the album on this review, and it looks like you are saving me $10 (or maybe I’ll just buy The Curse and Don’t Leave).
    2. I am really looking forward to your scathing review of House Song, and I hope you fucking publish the next section of this review on time and not in 5 months 😛
    3. Love the reference to the Albatross (I’ve read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” like 4 times).
    4. Um…I don’t have a four.
    5. When you talk about how Luke is a collab whore, you really need to talk about his TERRIBLE collabs with Meekakity……have you seen the Bacon Song?
    6. Alright, I guess that is it.
    7. Oh yeah, one last thing: I am currently sitting on my bed with approximately 2000 HPTCG Cards, so get fucking ready for your demise.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 17, 2011 @ 18:25:16

      7. OH SHIT. BRING IT, PUNK.
      1. Glad you like it! Also, I know some people were waiting to buy before they heard what I said, but I can’t believe you actually waited this long! Good on you? I guess? #PatienceIsNOTOneOfMyQualities

      Reply

    • Lewis
      May 19, 2011 @ 10:40:41

      If you’re going to insult someone, at least be familiar with the material to which you’re referring. Luke didn’t do the Bacon Song.

      Reply

  8. Trisha
    May 17, 2011 @ 20:37:11

    Um. Just FYI…Hero Pt. 2 is about SNAPE, not Harry.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 18, 2011 @ 00:00:18

      OOOOOOOOH. Right. Looking at the lyrics, I can totally see that – “I will not be called a coward” and all that. However, if the song is about Snape, THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE TITLED IT “The Hero, Pt. 2”!!! The original, very good song was about Harry, the sequel would logically be about Harry, and there are things in here that fit too with Harry – the dark powers calling him out by his name could very well be referring to Voldy calling for Harry to come face him, which is what I thought it was about. And I think I would have totally gotten for it if it wasn’t for the stupid title. Thanks for pointing that out! I’ll be sure to make a correction in the next article.

      Reply

  9. RandifromLoveWrocks
    May 18, 2011 @ 10:28:18

    Well said Snobby. I’ve never been a big MoM fan, but this album was slightly inane.
    ON The Hero pt. 2, if it is about Snape, it should’ve been more obvious (more words and less repetitve use of them would’ve been excellent too). Or maybe they should’ve just re-named it and not made it a sequel to a song about Harry.
    And I much prefer Tom Riddle and Friends McGonagall song to MoM. They pwn.

    Reply

  10. Russ
    May 18, 2011 @ 13:54:27

    You had me won over with the Rush and pre-cum comments. No more need be said. As far as the album… reading this review will be the closest I ever come to listening to it.

    Reply

  11. Lewis
    May 19, 2011 @ 11:51:01

    I have to hand it to you, in this article your writing has greatly improved from all your previous work on this site. Take that as a compliment. This article was much easier to read, looked at a bigger overall picture (mostly), and the points made were less childish. And even less biased, which can be tough. There’s still some room for improvement, and I thought about actually emailing you the following advice, because I mean it sincerely, but I felt that would go against the nature of this site. So here it is in the comments section for all to see.

    -I think right now your biggest hindrance is your inability to dislike something, but still appreciate it. Drawing a line between personal taste and execution of something is tough to do. However, for a *good* critic, it’s absolutely necessary. Just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not well done. Case in point: I cannot stand Taylor Swift. I don’t like Country music in the first place, and I find her voice annoying and her lyrics cliche. But I will readily acknowledge WHY she is so successful, and that’s because even if it’s not to my liking, her songs are done well. And let’s be honest, people don’t get to be as successful as she is by sheer fluke or just by being a cute little blonde girl. Overall on this article, I felt you did a better job with this than in the past, but it’s still something you need to continue to focus on. It’s what separates the good critics from the bad ones. I used to always be able to know if I’d like a movie or not based on Gene Siskel’s review of it. Even if he gave it thumbs down, the content of his reviews was unbiased enough that I understood his points and was able to make my own conclusion as to whether or not I would like the film. Be like Gene Siskel. Minus the brain tumor.

    -Be more concise. Words are fun, but too many of them makes the writing seem like a murky mess. You could state a point seven different ways, just to make sure your readers really understand how strongly you feel about something, OR you could just state it right the first time. There were times in this article where a topic was harped on so much that I found myself skipping entire paragraphs. Even on issues on which I agreed with you. If you’re stating your point well, you should only need to do so once.

    -There’s a time and a place for snarky comments and for trying to be funny. Once or twice is fine, but do it too often and it looks like you’re trying too hard.

    -Do your research, and do it thoroughly. And then double check everything, just to be sure. Mis-quoted lyrics and incorrect assumptions shouldn’t be happening at all

    -Equal treatment and standards for all bands reviewed. It’s no secret that you’re a big supporter of lesser-known wrock bands. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s great to support an artist simply because they’re the underdog. But when I read a review of their music, I expect an actual review. I’m not saying you need to be the Simon Cowell of Wizard Rock. But how else will the band learn without some constructive criticism. Maybe their album was not mixed well, a common problem for many Wizard Rock bands. It’s not something you should harp on, but they need to know that factor XYZ is holding their band back. Having potential is great, but unless a band does something with that potential, they aren’t going to get far and you’re doing a disservice to that band by not giving them the proper feedback.

    I came into this article with probably a more cynical state of mind than I should have. But there were multiple times when I was pleasantly surprised. If you want specifics, let me know, but chances are you are aware of what you’re doing right and don’t need me to tell you.

    And finally, a completely unrelated normal-type comment thing.

    ” Also, while I love the vocal melodies in the chori, the vocal performances in the whole piece are not the best on the album (especially on the third verse).”

    -There is no third verse in Don’t Leave. I’m confused.

    -I know this comes down to opinion but how can you not be knocked dead by Ryan’s vocal performance on the chorus?(As I understood it, you’re saying you like the melody, but the sound of the vocals themselves in the song are weak. Correct me if I misunderstood.) I think Ryan sounds the best he’s ever sounded in all of his time with MoM in this song. The chorus right after the bridge gives me goosebumps every single time.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 20, 2011 @ 04:16:03

      Thank you very, very much for your in-depth constructive criticism, and I completely agree with your reasons for posting it here, in public. Right on! I hope to respond more in-depth, later, but for now, a simple acknowledgment and thanks. Also, feel free to inflate my ego and tell me what I did right (in all seriousness I find hearing what someone thinks you did right can inform how to interpret what they think you did wrong, and vice-versa), but feel free to just email me that if you want. Or post it here. Whateva.

      Reply

      • Lewis
        May 24, 2011 @ 09:07:24

        Sent. Now tell me about this mysterious third verse in Don’t Leave.

        Reply

        • wrocksnob
          May 25, 2011 @ 11:45:20

          Woops, I was referring to the bridge. My bad.

          Reply

          • Lewis
            May 25, 2011 @ 13:28:14

            Then I suppose I double-dog disagree with you about the vocals. Not only does Ryan sound amazing on Don’t Leave, but it’s one of Aaron’s strongest parts as well. Actually, I think on this album, both of them sound the strongest they ever have, vocally. I was blown away by both of them.

            Reply

    • Matt
      May 29, 2011 @ 09:11:14

      Yo Erinn! U know I luv u gurl, but I just have to call out one little section of your feedback. I actually agree with many of your points about Snobby’s writing, although I still think he’s the best thing to happen to wizard rock blogging since the Wizrocklopedia. He definitely has a lot of room for refinement, but to be thinking about music in the way he does at a relatively young age, and to display the level of creativity he displays — to me, it’s HIS potential we should be fostering, because the music industry needs better critics.

      Which brings me to my point: I’m wondering when wizard rock transitioned from a scene where sound quality was second to artistic expression and celebration of literature to a scene where people say in all seriousness that subpar sound quality is “holding bands back.” There’s a difference between a band like Ministry of Magic or The Remus Lupins or The Whomping Willows — bands that actively try to sell albums and make a career of their music — and bands that are exploring music for the first time and just getting their feet wet with recording and such. I think the wizard rock scene is beautiful in this regard: there are so many fans who love little-known bands with homemade demos as much as they love professionally produced bands like MoM. I don’t think bands are holding themselves back if they’re more focused on developing their songwriting than putting out a hit single. In many cases, the hit singles come later.

      I think it’s important for bigger bands — bands with the skills, experience, and resources to make professional or near-professional sounding music — to foster these younger and smaller bands and offer them input on how they can improve their overall product, but not in a way that makes these smaller bands feel like they HAVE TO do that in order to be successful or important or legitimate. I think it’s important for it to be a natural progression, not something that everyone feels pressured to do because the winds of circumstance have suddenly shifted certain wizard rockers toward the mainstream.

      My overall point is that — even as I continue to improve my own sound and move toward the realm of radio friendly (that is, if it were still 1994) — I still place more overall value on the development of newer wizard rockers. Tianna Weasley of I Speak Tree and Eva of Seen and Unforeseen are two examples of people who are writing amazing songs and have a lot of time to continue developing as artists. Should we pounce on them and say, “Your homemade demo would never be played on the radio! You need this microphone and this recording program and these effects to make it sound better!”? Or should we simply encourage them to keep writing from the heart, playing shows, getting comfortable with performing, and getting situated with themselves and their own personal style?

      I think Snobbington McElroy differentiates between bands that are trying really hard to sound like the radio, bands that are just starting out with recording, and bands that fall somewhere in between, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s totally pointless for Snobz to provide constructive criticism on sound quality when reviewing a band that is clearly aware that their recording isn’t professional. In contrast, because MoM’s music is more professional, in a way that makes it more susceptible to a full critical review. It makes more sense to pick apart MoM and other professional-sounding bands because they’ve tackled every aspect of pop music — writing, performing, recording, mixing, and mastering.

      Finally, just want to say that punk rock isn’t for everyone, but neither is pop music. MoM’s aesthetic works for MoM, but it doesn’t work for everyone else. What you might view as sonically awful, other people find great beauty in it. And as much as majority rules in terms of who makes money and who doesn’t, that’s really not what music and art are all about. Some bands actually avoid professional recordings on principle and are more popular than any wizard rock band or wizard rock side project ever will be, and that’s because a lot of people grow to recognize that their songs and their message are what’s most important. The bottom line is that you can’t claim one band to be the standard and expect everyone else to aspire to that standard, because music is simply too diverse and too subjective an art form to be chained to anyone’s individual standards.

      Your friend,
      Matt

      Reply

      • Lena
        May 29, 2011 @ 09:54:17

        Well said 🙂

        Reply

      • Lewis
        May 29, 2011 @ 10:20:56

        Matt, I think you bring up a good point. In no way do I mean to come off as saying that every artist should sound polished and perfect right from the start. I think the problem is that when I made the point about smaller bands, I had two particular instances in mind. And so I generalized, in order to encompass these two instances, resulting in me talking about the big picture without looking at the big picture.

        Without naming any specific people or bands, the two occurances I was talking about was one artist, repeatedly wondering why he/she was not selling more on itunes, why people weren’t voting for his/her music in certain polls and why it wasn’t being chosen for compilation albums. And all the responses this person was getting were along the lines of ‘that’s not fair’, ‘you’re such a nice person’, ‘you work so hard on your music’, which may be true, but it’s not going to help him/her get to where they are wanting to be.

        The second was an artist specifically asking for a review from Wrocksnob. And this happens many times (something he should take as a compliment). But (and to be honest, this feeling probably comes watching too many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares on Hulu) I worry that they’re just asking for the review to hear the favorable stuff. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In theater when we did notes at the end of every rehearsal, I thrived off the good feedback, so I can understand wanting to hear it. But I just feel the ones who are asking for the reviews need to be ready to hear both sides, and know that he won’t be able to give them some magic button to push where they can fix everything with little time and effort.

        As for picking mixing/post-prod, honestly it was an arbitrary example. I still think that most of the time, well-produced bad music has a better chance of making it big than poorly put together good music. (Rebecca Black, anyone?) And that’s not to say that I think that’s the way it should be. But you make a very true point about poorly produced excellent music. My two favorite bands are Green Day and Weezer, both of which had roughly mixed older material that still gets played on the radio over a decade later. So maybe the example I picked wasn’t the best.

        Cliff notes version: I agree with you on all your points. I stand by what I said, but you took it to a broader spectrum and what I said doesn’t always apply. So thanks for the reminder. 🙂

        Reply

        • wrocksnob
          May 29, 2011 @ 11:37:52

          Well said, both of you, you both brought up excellent points that in some ways ended up being the same points, sort of. Funny how that works out. And this once again shows why my favorite part of the Wrock Snob is the comments board, because unintended interesting discussions can pop up! As for me, I have tried to to be fair to both big bands and small bands, but that doesn’t necessarily mean equal treatment. I don’t think that’s right. I would never review, say, Slytherin Soundtrack or The Wizarding World the same way I would MoM, or Alex, or Matt, or whatever, and not because of any personal allegiances or vendettas, but because Hogwarts Hotel doesn’t need me to tell him that he has the production values of someone using an onboard microphone and not much else, because, well, he DOES have an onboard mic and not much else.

          Besides, for the most part, if I’m reviewing a smaller band, it’s because it’s a good band and I want to highlight it and point it out, not because it’s small and therefore good. There are plenty of small wrock bands that frankly are kind of terrible, but it’s not my place to tell them that. For the most part, THEY probably know that, and they don’t need anyone peeing in their wheaties. Bands that successively mainstage cons, and can tour, and make money off of their work, THEY can take it.

          That’s why reviewing compilation albums can be awkward and/or difficult for me, because there’s usually a couple songs at least by smaller bands that aren’t very good, but THEY didn’t ask me to review their song, the person running the thing did. Anyway, on that point, I also find it interesting when small bands ask me to review their music – I’m not always sure they know what they’re getting into, and sometimes, there’s just nothing I like in their music, at all, but there’s no need to spend 6000 words saying that about them. I usually respond privately in an email attempting to explain the sitch when such things happen.

          And sometimes a small band can be really good, or pretty good but needs some definite changes, and I feel I’ve done a pretty good job pointing those out – see my Hermione and the House Elves review. I tried to strike a balance between being fair to some teenager’s first band, and giving her some advice on what to do with her music in the future.

          If you, or anyone has specific examples of where you think I was showing bias or wasn’t giving and constructive criticism, I’d love to hear it. Thanks for the interesting discussion!

          Reply

        • Matt
          May 29, 2011 @ 18:35:38

          Interesting that you bring up Weezer, because I used the Blue Album and Pinkerton heavily as a point of reference when I was mixing Wizard Party Forever!!! If you’re not into Weezer, especially those first two albums, then you may not agree with certain aesthetic choices I made when mixing the album. But from my perspective, I’ve played tracks from WPF back to back with tracks from Blue and Pinkerton, and they’re pretty comparable. In some cases, WPF even sounds a bit louder and clearer, which is amazing considering Blue sold like three million copies. 🙂 But I’ve had people tell me that they don’t like WPF’s sound and they think I should’ve made certain changes to make it sound better. I chalk that up to a matter of personal preference and it doesn’t change the way I feel about it at all.

          It seems like overall we’re basically on the same page, so that’s cool! 🙂

          I’ve definitely encountered wizard rockers who are blatantly convinced that they’re entitled to attention and even a leg up from bigger artists, and that’s something I just don’t even acknowledge (with the exception of one or two cases where the person was actually personally attacking popular bands for not extending the leg up, or attacking other small bands for earning a leg up by being particularly unique or awesome, in which case I’ve been pretty vocal in telling them to display some manners). Overall though, I think the vast majority of wizard rockers are just having fun with music, and then there are bands who are trying to make something of themselves and they exist at various levels of popularity and professionalism. I think the variety is something that makes wizard rock extremely interesting, and I truly believe that if you write good music and you go about things the right way, wizard rock fans will support you as soon as they’ve heard your music and felt some kind of connection to it/you. 🙂

          Reply

  12. A Blithering Idiot
    May 30, 2011 @ 08:36:39

    That is a super-peachy-keen post. Thanks for really blathering on like that! Seriously, I don’t think I could have spent more effort wishing for something heavy to fall on me to erase that nonsense from my mind!

    Reply

  13. Chaser
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 22:47:14

    I just wanted to say a little bit about “Lily.”

    I agree with you and everyone else who says that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, perspective-wise. However, I thought it was fairly obvious that it was a Snape/Lily song, as most of the lyrics are canon-compliant. One of the lines was pulled almost directly from canon:

    “I am so nervous/ I’ve thought for ages what to say”

    I think in the book narrator!Harry says something like “he could tell that Snape had been thinking about what to say for a long time, and it had gone horribly wrong.”

    Okay, that actually wasn’t that close to canon. But my point is I think most of the song fits with canon, except for the two lines that Lily speaks:

    “I knew straight away / on that day” – no, she actually hated him the first time she met him

    “but in such an exciting way” – I don’t hate this line because it’s sappy or whatever. I hate it because the line before, “you seem more different every day,” would have made COMPLETE sense in canon if it weren’t for throwing in the “exciting” bit. The line just doesn’t make sense and confuses what’s actually going on in the song.

    Reply

  14. Daniel
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 23:05:48

    I was going to point out the ‘The Hero, Pt. 2’ is about Snape, not Harry, but it’s been done for me.

    Also, The ‘My Baby’ was, I thought, meant to be sort of satirical. A more Justin Be-something-esque song. I thought it was funny, but I could see how it could be over bearing for some.

    As for ‘Lily’, I never really got the song either. I kinda wrote it off as a Snape-fantasy. It was a dream or some shit. I don’t know. I don’t really care, because I don’t really care for the song. But reading this made me think… the song would work if it were a Snape/Lily and James/Lily song. Like, Snape is singing about Lily, but Lily and James were singing to each other.

    Oh, and ‘This Town’, I dunno, the dragon rally line just didn’t seem like a big deal to me. It fit somewhere in my head for reasons I can’t explain.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Jun 21, 2011 @ 08:33:25

      RE: Snape singing about Lily while Lily and James sing to each other – Now THAT’S an interesting idea. I like that idea a lot – I wish they’d done that. Sort of like TRL’s “Perfect For Each Other”, but without the Remus and with a bit more 1st person POV for Lily and James. Hmmmm…. Really cool lyrical ideas, there!

      Reply

  15. BabylonRanger
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 21:25:58

    Hello, I’m not sure if someone has already mentioned this or not (and I’m a little too lazy to read through all of this), but for The Hero Part 2, did you think it was from Harry’s POV? Because I think it’s supposed to be Snape’s. And I’ve been hearing “I wanna be one” not “I don’t wanna be one.”

    Reply

    • BabylonRanger
      Oct 13, 2011 @ 21:27:49

      Actually, nevermind about the POV part. I just saw that was mentioned. x_x

      Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Oct 15, 2011 @ 10:38:10

      Yes, that has been covered, but thanks for the input! Also, just trust me on this one – it’s “I don’t wanna be one”. I had to listen to this song so many freakin’ times so I could make those stupid graphs, and… yeah.

      Reply

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