Diversity is an incredibly important skill for a musician to possess. Whether it be across the course of a single album, or an artist’s entire discography, it’s vital to change things up if you’re looking to keep your audience engaged and interested. Although I haven’t heard their entire discography, One Cure For Man’s newest album, Gods and Toys, is a perfect example of that; every song is a little different from the last by utilizing elements from pop-rock, alt-rock, and indie genres.
First and foremost, I need to commend the guitar work on this album. Whether it be an electric guitar being featured on an upbeat pop-rock track like, “Always There For You,” or an acoustic guitar being played with a mellow tune like “Hazel,” the licks, riffs, and solos never fail to impress. In most cases, they’re a lot faster and more complex than you’d expect to hear, considering the genre, but they never feel out of place. I specifically loved the guitar solos featured in “Freedom,” and “1000 Stars.” It’s also worth mentioning that, much to my surprise, a majority of this album’s work is done by a single musician. Multi-instrumentalist and producer, James Parkinson, is responsible for nearly every aspect of this album, aside from the strings, drums, and the mixing/mastering. Meaning that the guitar, vocals, lyrics, bass, programming, keyboards, even the painting used as the cover art was done by Parkinson. As a multi-instrumentalist myself, I can appreciate the talent level, and am tempted to give this album a 10 based on that aspect alone, but, I need to critique the music itself.
My only bit of criticism is that the vocal melodies and lyrics are sometimes distracting, and, ultimately, take away from the beautiful instrumentation. A lot of these songs, especially the slower, more ambient ones, would work better as instrumentals. “Hazel” is a good example of this. It works perfectly as an instrumental track and is one of the emotional high points of the album. I feel as if songs like “Blood Rain,” and “The Lost” could match this level of emotional intensity if it weren’t for the vocals.
All in all, it’s a solid rock record that doesn’t ever get boring, even after a number of listens. I find new reasons to love it each time. A variety of genres are featured throughout the album’s eleven songs, and they all do a great job of keeping the listener interested. The musicianship (especially the guitar work) is impressive to say the least, and is touching at times. It’s all the more impressive that the majority of this album’s work was achieved by one musician. I strongly suggest checking it out, and listening to it late at night when the music can move you the most, and in all the right places.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy