It's no secret that I've been listening to a pre-release demo version of "RΔ" by Simon Curtis for awhile now ahead of his blazing appearance at EQ Live last month and I have to say that even when the final mastered album was sprung onto iTunes yesterday (surprise!), I was still left amazed at how well "RΔ" has been executed and received.
In less than 24 hours, "RΔ" has already charted on many international iTunes pop charts and is climbing as you read this. With still no manager, no publicist and no record label – Simon Curtis has set the standard for independent pop this year, proving that with the power of the web, a strong sense of belief and an army of devoted fans that you know, nurture and communicate with – becoming a pop star is still achievable in the day and age of social networking and a dying recorded music industry.
So what do I think of "RΔ"? Well, it's an angry album, something of which Simon warned us about by penning the sound as "evil N'Sync" before his London show last month. But the best music comes out angry and torn artists, am I right? What would "Jagged Little Pill" have been like if Alanis Morisette weren't pissed off? What would "Rumors" by Fleetwood Mac have sounded like if the band members didn't secretly despise each other? But what exactly is Simon Curtis so angry about?
It's apparent that Simon Curtis has undergone a lot of changes recently in his interpersonal relationships and like an open book, his jaded thoughts surrounding friendship, love and sex are told brilliantly through militant electropop songs like "Pit Of Vipers", "D.T.M" (Dead To Me) and the "let's just put this lightly" track "I Hate U". It's heavy stuff and believe you me, you can tell he's been put through the ringer in regards to life lessons lately. On track "Joshua", I am even almost slightly disturbed at it's blazon creepiness and dreadful honesty. Yeah it's heavy stuff when you examine the lyrical content, but the way it's told through song is just nothing short of extraordinary.
I spent a little time with Simon in London and in our chats he sometimes expressed a disillusionment with how some of his friends in "young hollywood" had changed recently due to a variety of factors. It's this disillusionment that can be heard in each and every track on "RΔ" and that is what makes the whole album an mini masterpiece of sorts. Also, one of the obvious saving graces for Simon Curtis as an artist and human being has been the overwhelming support of his "Robot Army" in helping him realize the release of "RΔ" yesterday. You can hear his undying love and appreciation for his fans in tracks like "Laser Guns Up", "Superhero" and "Get In Line" which although sound dark upon listen – they ultimately are about love.
My favorite tracks you ask? Well "Flesh" takes the prize. It's dirty and sweaty, pumping, yet low grooving. The "Twilighters" would even identify and appreciate this one. "Enemy" balances a stern, spat-out, lyric-led verse with a yearning and soaring chorus. It’s as driving as it is dizzying, as celestial as it is sensitive. "How To Start A War" is probably the most traditional pop song on the album, but it's got that amazing Jadion production on it similar to "Fell In Love With An Android" that I can't quite get enough of that grips my inner core.
Here's my critical bits. I still don't care too much for "Don't Dance" perhaps because it a bit too dubstep and twisty for my traditional pop sensibility. And whilst I understand why tracks like the beautiful "Starlight" collaboration with Frankmusik and catchy "Wicked Baby" collaboration with Ro Danishei didn't ultimately end up on the final cut, it's poignant songs like those two unreleased tracks that could have evened out the aggressive nature of the album. Don't get me wrong, I love how wickedly and enjoyably evil "RΔ" comes off, but the Boy Robot I adore and love from "8Bit Heart" shouldn't be put in a corner forever.
So there it is – my thoughts on "RΔ". It's delightfully dark and wickedly wonderful. It's an honest exploration into the changing dynamic of interpersonal relationships that conjure up feelings of lust and disgust, heaven and heartbreak, anger and appreciation. "RΔ" ultimately leaves you grasping at the gaping, bloody hole in your heart and sometimes lashing out agressively in song is the only remedy. If "RΔ" is how Simon Curtis reacts to the negative space in the in-between of his life journey, I can't wait until he finds his "true love" – for that album is sure to be an epic kaleidoscope of vivid colour and emotion.