Album Review: Andrew WK – “You’re Not Alone”
The early noughties had their fair share of one-hit wonders with guitars, but Andrew WK really is a strange case in point. Barrelling into the public consciousness on a tidal wave of press hype, it really did seem for five very weird minutes like he was the future of rock ‘n’ roll on the back of his omnipresent rock club anthem Party Hard. And there’s no denying it was a great song, the sonic equivalent of being smacked around the head with a baseball bat for three minutes, while some sweaty goon with a voice like a foghorn screams the chorus in your ear. In a world swamped by the twin evils of nu-metal’s artless thuggery, and The Strokes’ tedious watered down take on garage rock, it genuinely did feel like something different and exciting.
The trouble is that upon hearing his debut album I Get Wet, it became a bit obvious that he only really had one trick, as pretty much all of the other songs essentially sounded like Party Hard with slightly different lyrics. Great in small doses, but very repetitive over a full length album. The press reaction rapidly cooled and he dropped silently out of the limelight. A second album The Wolf followed in 2005 (pretty much a straight continuation of the first as you might have guessed), but it well and truly bombed commercially and that, it seemed, was that.
However, Mr WK has actually been quietly turning out product under the public radar ever since, with You Are Not Alone being no less than his sixth album, and his first since 2012. Weirdly, in the interval since the last one the guy has found a second career as a motivational speaker, which kind of figures I guess, and You Are Not Alone sees him putting his thoughts to music.
The trouble is that while AWK has moved on lyrically (well, a little bit anyway, there are still songs called The Party Never Dies, Party Mindset and The Power Of Partying – old habits die hard evidently), sonically he’s pretty much exactly where he was in 2002. Each song crashes in on a wave of Meatloaf style guitars, pianos and synths with all the subtlety of a brick to the face, with the consequence being that generally quite serious messages like Give Up On You and Ever Again get buried beneath ten tons of bombast, and just end up sounding like yet more clones of Party Hard.
And therein lies the rub – call me a killjoy if you must, but I’ve always found it a bit difficult to see Andrew WK as being anything other than a bit… well, silly, really. It’s a shame, because you’ve only got to look out of the window to see that we’re living in depressing times, and the temptation to throw your hands up in the air, say “Fuck it” and go hide under their duvet to wait for it all to go away is pretty strong sometimes. At the very least Andrew WK deserves credit for trying to buck peoples’ spirits up, and if this album persuades even a few listeners at the end of their rope that life is worth carrying on with, then all power to him. Sorry to say though that from a reviewer’s perspective, You’re Not Alone just left me cold unfortunately.
The fact that Andrew WK is still managing to pack out decent sized venues on the strength of one hit single fifteen years ago is a testament to his tenacity, and his intentions in persuading people that, as one of the song titles states, Music Is Worth Living For are laudable indeed. It's just a shame that all these years on from Party Hard there's been absolutely no musical evolution whatsoever in this particular camp.