Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Book Of Love ~ I Touch Roses: The Best Of The Book Of Love (hits comp)


(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: electro pop, synth pop, dance
Label: Reprise
Year: 2000
Home: Pennsylvania (disbanded)

Members: Jade Lee ~ keyboards/percussion/b. vocals
Ted Ottaviano ~ keyboards/melodica/bells/b. vocals

Susan Ottaviano ~ vocals
Lauren Roselli ~ keyboards/b. vocals

Additional: Lori Lindsay, Ray Carroll, Richard Joseph ~ guitar
Mark S.J. Roselli ~ b. vocals

This now obscure one hit pop group has been called "saccharine" by some reviewers, but I'd like to suggest differently for a new listening experience. I feel the BOL brought an enjoyable non-saccharine moody coldness with a female voice to the synthpop new wave world. The lyrics might indeed be sappy love songs with more often than not weak cliched proto-Europop lyrics, but the music on the whole was more akin to the feeling Shirley Manson would try with Garbage or maybe more properly the Eurythmics. Fun, yet cold. Danceable, with a sly grin. The Eurythmics just didn't have the dance beat so prominent or the lyrics so weak, & Annie Lennox always had a bit of a chill in her demeaner & she knew it & played upon it. The producers of the BOL didn't realize what made them good & thus brought their own decline by missing the mark they accidentally stumbled upon. They pumped up the beauty when they should have pumped up the isolating lyrical aspect of some of the songs. They wanted to be friendly when they should have gone distant. A happy accident but the band, nor the reviewers, I believe, have realized it. Some maybe. The BOL aimed for a womanly touch but the singing is anything but motherly. In hindsight the BOL is a deliberately harsh Shakespeare's Sister waiting to happen. One band understood what people liked but weren't able to make it happen again in the long-term. The other one should have gotten a new producer instead of trying to reinvent themselves on every album. Thus, we have the only major hit "I Touch Roses", with its flashes of sound & cold drum beat & synthetic rhythm, being quite enjoyable ... but critics don't want to confess this as they feel obligated to critique the band in light of them failing to not match their PR materials. But, listen with open ears & it becames enjoyable by being everything that it didn't intend to be. That's the secret of re-discovering the BOL. But, really, given all this, they really are a one hit band & there's no surprise why. The best songs are good but not strong enough to battle what else was on the charts, particularly some of the more experimental pieces from the later albums that just gracefully miss the mark by being a bit too experimental. Three new tracks are included in this compilation from 2000 & one remix. The new tracks could be out of Madonna's Confessions On The Dancefloor & I wouldn't be suprised if someone told me they were. Sadly, these new tracks have the most intricate & modern electronica foundations but the weakest of lyrics relying on repetition of cute phrases versus interesting storytelling. They show the other reason the band declined commercially - not just did they not realize what made them good, but they went from interesting lyrics to words that just sound good against a beat. Critcs err again on this point by calling it saccharine. Music needs meaning to be saccharine. These weak songs have no meaning. "Counting The Rosaries" which is so wanna-be Madonna ... though the horrible male voice intoning latin is creative but disruptively too experimental ... has a non-exist message & is purely simple lines strung together for the sake of it. It's dry & boring electropop. The emotional quality is non-existant, if not forced, & is just bad not saccharine. Saccharine is being nice. I'm trying to show what could be fixed. Their dance beat version of "Tubular Bells" is case in point, as what is somewhat an already sterile song becomes flat. It's worse in this case because what makes the best songs interesting is not just the unintentional coldness but also the lyrical twists. So, having an instrumental gets rid of whatever was left of interest. It's just sad. Its as sad as Donna Summer becoming a hardcore Christian & decrying her overwhelmingly gay fanbase. For example of their good lyrics turn to the modest college hit "Boy". With a little work this could find a whole new audience ... if, like "Tainted Love", it was given a twist by a gay artist. Consider the chorus, to demonstrate, as its certainly halfway there: "I wanna be where the boys are/but I'm not allowed/I wait outside of the boys bar/I want them to all come out/I'm not a boy ... I stay at home at night/& I play with my toys/I'm not a boy." I'd be looking for a gay artist to record this without hesitance. Actually, there's a few songs that have a slight gay innuendo feeling from the debut album. Put these innuendo lyrics with the cold beat & suddenly the BOL take on a new life, which is the life I wish to encourage folks to listen for. It's a dancefloor explosion waiting to happen. If I haven't proven the case yet of how an accident creates life, consider ... who would give a band the name Love only to have a cover with four depressed looking faces looking in different directions, if the band was only about happy love songs? Maybe the producers did know what they were doing ... then we'll blame it on the PR firm they hired.


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