Andrew W.K. has been a consistent if not bizarre force in the music scene. The man has built an entire career on making party music. Music about parties, partying, going to parties, etc. Even his Twitter has expanded on what constitutes the “party” state of mind to the point where, to Andrew W.K., the party has become more of an ethos than it has an event where you drink and dance. He’s high energy, he’s loud, he’s aggressively optimistic, and he wants to party with you. You’re Not Alone is simultaneously not about partying but it is about the party. But more importantly, it’s about acceptance, self-love, hope, perseverance, and the darkness that makes us all human.
The album starts with four fiery tracks. An instrumental intro that kicks down the doors of your psyche as a man dressed in all white, presumably wearing a cape, bursts through in a blast of light, hellbent on loving the shit out of you. The next three tracks could serve as the album’s thesis statement; “Music Is Worth Living For”, as the title might suggest, is about the wonder of music for the mind. “Ever Again” is a self-declaration on how possible change is and how the answer to happiness is different for everyone. “I Don’t Know Anything”, an Elton John meets screaming anxiety sounding anthem is a humbling reminder that it’s okay to not know everything.
This all leads to the spoken word, 47 second monologue that is “The Feeling of Being Alive.” No music, no song, just Andrew W.K. reassuring us that all the fear, sadness, anxiety, depression, and loneliness we feel is normal. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or run from, but something to embrace. He says this because he feels these things too. That it’s part of the intensity of being alive.
“Understanding this is what partying is all about.”
Partying has now transcended to a celebration of existential despair. We are now full steam ahead to an arena rock show that never lets up. The album has a strange natural flow to it where each song doesn’t surprise you but keeps up the unrelenting energy and positivity for a straight hour. The climax comes once you begin “The Devil’s On Your Side.” The lyricism starting here gets more complex, the music softens so you don’t mistake what is being said. This lasts for four tracks. “Break the Curse” has a melancholy yet joyful feel, “Total Freedom” is a shouted symphony, but it’s “Beyond Oblivion” the slow piano solo, that helps put things in perspective.
This isn’t an album pretending depression doesn’t exist; it’s everywhere, it’s part of being alive. “Beyond Oblivion,” while not sad, is a reminder of that. And to top it all off, the title track is simply an exit where you are reminded over and over that everyone feels like this and…well, you’re not alone.
The music of this album isn’t for everyone. It’s a bizarre swirl of glam rock, synth pop, grunge, and orchestral. It’s foot-on-the-gas level rock that is never wholly one thing. At times this can be grating and W.K.’s vocals chameleon their way through he record with varied levels of success but the sheer impact the album is determined to leave behind can’t be ignored.
Overall the album is a force of nature. An infectiously happy outing that can’t really help but put you in a better mood. The Ambassador of the Party is back with what could quite possibly be his best work yet.
You’re Not Alone is available now for purchase and digital download.