Is it bad if the best song on an album is the 90-second intro?
That’s what I ask after multiple listens of Sweet Electra’s When We Abandoned Earth. Don’t get me wrong—the New York electronic duo is pretty good at what they do. Giovanni Escalera is an excellent producer who has done an able job, along with vocalist Nardiz Cooke, of crafting a lush and sweeping sound—a mostly elegant blend of ambient electronics, upbeat indie and haunting female ooohs and aaaahs. It’s very hip and New-York-fashionista-friendly.
The problem is that while each individual song on the album is ear candy, the tracks as a whole make for an album that lacks diversity and a dynamic arc. Simply put: Virtually every song sounds the same. With little variation, it was possible for the intro track “Ignition” to leave the best impression. Another strong track includes “It’s Over”, which sounds like a violinist soloing to an Evanescence song. Don’t be discouraged: This odd combination actually works fantastically for fans of melodramatic pop music. The six-minute “I Am” is also a fabulous track, with its hopeful piano line and whimsical and happy vocals. The acoustic drums fill the void sometimes left by electronic pieces. There are flashes of greatness on this song, including the build and climax. But at 6:22, it’s about a minute or two too long.
The rest of the songs range from kinda good to unmemorable. There isn’t enough change in mood to make this album listenable in one sitting for the casual fan. The worst moment comes with the unfortunate two-part toe-dip into fashion-boutique techno (“Give Up”). Oddly, it’s followed by the most depressing track on the album (“Te Fuiste”).
When We Abandoned Earth has great moments, good moments and dull moments. I’ll recommend it to anyone looking for a rainy-day album to have as background music for reading or completing household tasks. Some of these songs would be great on a mix CD for a Saturday night of clubbing. But overall, it’s just not strong enough to be the main focus of one’s attention for more than a couple of songs.