The Softer The Rock, The Fiercer The Farce
This is a parody album… we think. Don’t go thinking Weird Al or anything, though; Heidecker and Wood have gone after this with a softer touch, sort of like Spinal Tap did for-– well, no, that’s not really softer. We take it back.
But it’s in the same general direction. Some Things Never Stay the Same is indeed meant as a parody of “medium rock” from the ’70s, and you’ll hear some funhouse echoes of bands such as the Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, Bruce Springsteen and many, many more semi-soft rockers from the period. Again, though, we’re not talking Weird Al; any chuckles these songs earn will be subtle ones. Most are good enough to stand as tribute pieces in their own right. Some Things Never Stay the Same is an odd album. It’s a parody that, despite some serious weak patches, threatens to stand on up on its own merits.
Album opener “Cocaine” sets the tone for the following half-hour. A driving piano, scuzzy guitars and a gravelly vocal line should instantly put listeners in the mindset of just about everything Springsteen has ever done. The horns don’t exactly dispel that first impression, either. The only things that tilt the song toward the farcical-– and again, this is something you’ll notice throughout the album-– are its lunkheaded lyrics and incredibly repetitive structure.
Those key features are both blessing and curse throughout Some Things Never Stay the Same. They do give many songs some parodic street cred and, if you’re the kind who actually listened to the Doobie Brothers while sober enough to catch the lyrics, you’ll probably find yourself laughing at the exaggerated half chorus/half verse tradeoff. On the one hand, some songs quickly become annoyingly repetitive, and offerings like “Tell Her I Love Her” and “On Our Own” quickly lose their dorky charm.
On the other hand, most of the album is fun enough to stay compelling. The lyrics to “Getaway Man” suggest Kenny Loggins at his most ridiculous, and it’s pretty easy to imagine it playing over a car crash-heavy music video. A few surprising departures also keep things fresh. “Hurricane” is an artfully planned piece, with a typically mindless opening and then, after a short break, a post-storm section that brings a bit of maudlin (but genuinely pretty) charm to the song. “This is Life,” with its staccato brass blasts actually manages to evoke some of the punch of Earth, Wind & Fire, of all bands.
Album closer “Next Ten Years” is a bit of a puzzle. The opening thirty seconds are tender and well-written and do a better job of evoking the “where the hell do we go from here” vibe than some far more seriously-written songs ever have. It unfortunately lapses back into the dull with the addition of an uninspired female vocalist, but, well, damned if it didn’t kick off hard.