Avatar Four Word Reviews: Dead Letters

Last time we met here in the Album Review Auditorium, I had just suffered the ordeal of To The Extreme by Vanilla Ice. This time I have been listening to Dead Letters, the 2003 album by the Finnish sort-of rock band The Rasmus, and I’m a bit concerned that this review is not going to be like the other Four Word Reviews for two reasons. The first is that this album is not quite in the same league of shameful horror as most of the albums that have landed on my doormat over the last year. The second is that, having listened to Vanilla Ice in the recent past, nothing I hear for a long time will seem particularly bad. I think that’s why I’m not particularly down on this album. I thought it was sort of OK.

Dead Letters

I mean, let’s not go crazy here. I wouldn’t choose to listen to it again and I’m certainly not going to be singing along to it in the car. But with the likes of Vanilla Ice and Clock, I would seriously consider never listening to any music ever again if I thought it was the only way to avoid a second listen to those albums. This album is just a bit of a shrug by comparison.

Here’s what I didn’t know until I listened to the whole of this. I didn’t know The Rasmus are Finnish and I didn’t know they were still touring now. (I Googled them.) I didn’t realise – perhaps because, when I was used to hearing them on the radio back in 2004, I didn’t really know much about this kind of music – that their style is basically a sort of Europop version of emo. I didn’t know that I would remember their second single, Guilty, when I heard it. (I didn’t honestly remember they had a second single.)

Mostly this is power-pop emo with blasting guitars and tortured, needy lyrics. Some of them play on the band’s northern European origins – there’s definitely a mention of the Northern Lights in there for no especially good reason. Most of them have a delightful, endearing self-pity that suggests this lot came hot on the heels of nu-metal or whatever Lincoln Biscuit called themselves. There’s not a great deal to tell most of the songs apart.

I was lucky enough to be sent the extended album with three bonus tracks, so while most people only get ten songs on Dead Letters, ending in the festival of depression that is Funeral Song, I was able to enjoy a further three songs that were broadly the same as the first ten.

Track Title Word 1 Word 2 Word 3 Word 4
1 First Day of My Life Remarkably emotional Scandinavian rock
2 In the Shadows Honestly don’t mind this
3 Still Standing Entering needy emo territory
4 In My Life Van Halen meets Busted
5 Time to Burn Attempts metal. Still emo.
6 Guilty Extensive “woahs” and “yeahs”
7 Not Like the Other Girls Kettle boiling, missed this
8 The One I Love Shouty angst and guitars
9 Back in the Picture It’s more power emo
10 Funeral Song Dreary slow overworked pap
11 F-f-f-falling More of the s-s-s-same
12 If You Ever Harmonies glitter this turd
13 What Ever Jiggy tortured emo finale

I think in summary, I would describe this album as “not horrendous”. In the Shadows is an OK pop song that I don’t mind hearing every now and then if it happens to come on the radio. The rest of these songs are just songs I’m not very interested in. Like I say, my opinion may be skewed by To The Extreme and perhaps that means Vanilla Ice has ruined me as far as slagging off bad music goes. But for now I can’t lie about the fact that listening to this was reasonably tolerable.

My favourite thing about this album is the quote on the inside of the sleeve that explains at some length and in oddly academic language what a dead letter is. It’s in quotation marks but not attributed to anyone, so I choose to assume it’s just lifted from Wikipedia. My least favourite thing is that two of the tracks on this album have the same title as much better songs by other bands. One is “In My Life”, which goes without saying; the other is “If You Ever”, and the fact that I would rate a collaboration by Gabrielle and East 17 more highly than this says a lot about track 12.

I think we can all look forward with baited breath to Gary Wilmot, appearing in this slot next month. I for one have never heard of him.

14 comments on “Four Word Reviews: Dead Letters

  • I think this format is one of the best formats I have seen with my viewing eyes that “we” have ever come up with.

  • I agree. It was definitely us that came up with it, wasn’t it? Just us two. We did it. #matesquared

    I do think, by the way, that it seemed a bit amateurish until the Album Review Auditorium was completed last summer. It’s better now it’s in these prestigious surroundings.

  • It’s a shame that Kevin couldn’t have incorporated the Auditorium into his home, given how vast it is after his years of home improvements, because it would have fit nicely between the fifth study and second theatre room.

  • He probably thought yet another auditorium would be too similar to the existing concert hall and the double-size replica of the Royal Albert Hall that he put in a couple of years back.

  • Oh yeah. Silly me, I always forget about that. I get it confused with the coliseum hidden in the hedge maze.

    I lived there for twelve months and nobody noticed.

  • I spent a couple of days on a camping holiday in the hedge maze and I never found that. How far in was it? I thought I might be able to get all the way to the exit in my weekend break but it wasn’t to be. Eventually I had to be rescued by helicopter.

  • I remember that; it was on the news:

    ‘Henry Hoover Hedge Maze Helicopter Heroic Rescue’

    I was surprised to find that someone could power a chopper using a ‘oover. I almost wore the ‘h’ key on my computer typing that.

    The coliseum was at least six miles in.

  • That’s why I never found it. It was only after I got out that I learned the hedge maze covers an area close to the size of Rutland.

  • I, of course, know exactly where Rutland is and how much square foot it covers to the very letter… but for all those readers out there who don’t know this information, perhaps you might shed some light on it?

  • “Rutland is a landlocked county in the East Midlands of England, bounded to the west and north by Leicestershire, to the northeast by Lincolnshire and the southeast by Northamptonshire. It is the smallest historic county in England and the fourth smallest in the UK as a whole. Because of this, the Latin motto Multum in Parvo or “much in little” was adopted by the county council in 1950. It has the smallest population of any normal unitary authority in mainland England and only the City of London is smaller in terms of area.”

    Just like The Rasmus, I have lifted this explanation from Wikipedia.

  • I had to pull the Colosseum down last summer after the local school children started using it to hold after school fights in.

  • The world thanks you for your cut and paste efforts, Chris.

    The local authority and school council both thank you for your vigilance, Kev.

  • Awwww what? Do I have to? That sounds like homework…

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