The most apt way to summarize this album -- and it bemoans me to say this -- is that I have absolutely no inclination to play it.
I didn't expect a great deal after 'Birds of Pray', which I thought was hands down their weakest release. For what it's worth, I do find 'Black Mountain' to be one small notch above that album, but really that doesn't mean a thing if you got in my head and magnified the word associations I have with 'Birds'. I think I repressed all the Amazon-appropriate words for that review, so I'm pretty sure a clouded rage lingers around it.
Basically this is light, relatively asinine and completely disposable pop-rock. If it does one thing right, it's the regression to a more flowing pop-natured album than the rigid, static 'Birds'. In this sense I find the album's songs constructed quite a bit like the pop-ballads of 'V', which I never minded in the first place. Sorry to say, however, even the highlights on this album can't much compare to the highlights on that album. Very few of the songs on here are unlistenable -- and a few are really quite enjoyable -- but virtually all of them are pretty lifeless. It's the kinda stuff I except to hear when I'm at a grocery store, which isn't ALL that surprising because I heard 'Birds'' "Run Away" at the local corporate grocery store more times than I'm comfortable with. I mean, this is the band that I cherished with 'Mental Jewelry' and 'Throwing Copper'... raw, biting albums of energy and thought. For shame.
Again... there are some nice songs here. When I first saw the video for the album's single, 'The River', I'm sure my face mutated into a vile, disgusting alien of awkwardness for a split second. The song and video shot through my brain like a nasty tab of LSD. GOD DAMNIT -- why can't Live just write a mother f8)#@;ng rock album again? The video was a disgrace in itself, but the tone of the music was quite literally softer and more timid than I'd heard. And not like, in a sensitive, precious light; more like a weak, lame light. Whatever. This song ultimately is an accurate sign of what the rest of the album comes to be -- breezy, well-natured songs that sound like they could have come from a benign Christian Rock group. I.E. mostly utter sh*#.
Yeah so "Sofia" is a pretty rockin' piece. Ditto with "Where Do We Go From Here". I actually like "Get Ready", which I've already read some people lambast with satanic-fueled anger. The harmony between guitar, drums, and strings near the end of "Mystery" is one of the highlights of the disc... good stuff. But you know what? They're mearly good. The best song on here isn't as good as the worst song on any of Live's releases pre-'V'. Every song on the arena-rock oriented 'The Distance to Here' rapes 'Black Mountain' in a way that I'd turn my head if I had to bear witness to it. I mean, defiles. And sure, "it's a pop album", but you know what? I am a freakin' pop freak. LOVE good pop. ADORE great pop. This isn't good pop. 'V' in my opinion wasn't good pop either, but it was admirable enough for a band trying something new. This isn't pop music worth touching.
Whew. Basically, don't get it. Still love Live for their first four albums, and yet again, don't mind the maligned fifth, 'V'. So despite two bombs, 'Birds of Pray' and now 'Black Mountain', I still really do consider myself a Live fan. I just hope that, if they even do make another album, it gets........ better.