We Are the World | Clay Stones
Most Likely To: confuse the well intentioned but not very bright.
When they chose to name themselves after the most well-meaning terrible song of the 1980s, the Los Angeles performance art/musical troupe We Are the World had no way of knowing that the Haiti earthquake would prompt a re-recording of said saintly but lousy song. As a result, it’s almost certain that at some point in the near future at least one inattentive and not particularly swift Jethro who wants to do a good deed will hit the wrong purchase button on iTunes and end up not with an all-star choir singing a dishwater dull song for a very good cause but with a decadent high-octane electronic dance album that lands somewhere between The Knife and Peaches.
While it would certainly be bad for any relief effort to not receive every dollar intended for it, it’s hard to not be amused when picturing the reaction of anyone expecting to hear the Jonas Brothers singing about a better day for you and me and instead being subjected to the pounding synths, overheated female vocals, and martial drumming of the quite grand title track of We Are the World’s debut Clay Stones, which sounds much more like the earthquake than it does the relief efforts.
They’ll also be somewhat perplexed by “Fight Song,” in which a slow synth pulse is married to a hyperactive vocal line before the whole thing bursts into a frantic synth break and ends up sounding like Lady Gaga fronting The Knife after downing three gallons of Red Bull. And what they’ll make of the title of the closing “Lord Have Ass” is anyone’s guess. I’m not even quite sure what I make of that myself.
It’s in the shifting dynamics of tracks like “Fight Song” that We Are the World excels. Songs that begin as one thing quite often explode into something very different, but always in a logical and dramatic way. They quite possibly come the closest of any band yet to marrying The Pixies’ trademarked quiet/loud dynamic to electronic dance music, exemplified best by “Lie Like the Forest,” which spends the first half of its running time as a sinister but subdued electronic beat and the second half as a blizzard of squalling synthesizers; and by “Goya Monster,” in which a loping dance pulse is periodically interrupted by bursts of manic percussion and distorted vocals.
So while it’s likely that We Are the World will gain a few unintentional sales from unwitting but well-intentioned souls, Clay Stones is well worth seeking out on its own merits. And hopefully those who end up with it by accident will give it a chance–it’s not what they thought they were going to be getting, but it’s worth having.
Check out the video for “Clay Stones” below: