Band of the Week: Blue October

Posted by Greg on Aug 24, 2018 in Music |

On their ninth album, Houston, TX’s Blue October has found a peace and a calm and that end result has made all the difference. From front to back, I Hope You’re Happy, is a stirring work of grandeur, poetry and an abundance of charm. From the lush and cinematic opener “Daylight” to the R&B-infused “Your Love is Like a Car Crash,” the album opens with a magnetic pull that’s as strong as any album released so far this month. Vocalist Justin Furstenfeld has always had a knack for tenderness and vulnerability but he wears it as well as he ever has on “Your Love is Like a Car Crash,” which darn well better make a dent before the year is over.

A beautiful bed of strings opens the mid-tempo and meandering “I Want to Come Back Home,” a layered affair that packs a punch from the very first seconds. Side A closes with “I’ll Do Me, You Do You,” lead single “I Hope You’re Happy” and “Colors Collide.” The former is a jittery and fractious effort that draws on the R&B vibe of “Your Love is Like a Car Crash” but takes it to teetering and slightly urban angle. The latter is flippant, dizzying, percussive and downright angry. Fans of the bands earlier work will resonate with “Colors Collide” the most but on this pristine and supremely polished album it does feel a bit misplaced. On the contrary, lead single “I Hope You’re Happy” is urgent, kinetic and downright infectious. Arguably one of the strongest singles of the year “I Hope You’re Happy” is an anthem in every sense of the word.

The placid and wintry “Remission in Cmaj” is a piano-driven instrumental that opens Side B and deftly yields to the buoyant albeit bittersweet “How to Dance in Time.” Gorgeous is a word that is thrown out often in music reviews but in the case of “How to Dance in Time” the word is most apt. The glorious and rousing “King” follows and has a grand and swelling chorus backed by bright guitars and stacks of gorgeous strings.

The disc’s apex just might come in the album’s final triumvirate. “Let Forever Mean Forever” is a slow-building tour-de-force that picks up gradually and results in a towering chorus and a veneer that is bursting and swelling with passion, confidence and command. The string-laden “All That We Are” is orchestral, serene and downright irresistible. If there’s one song that should be most remembered it just might be “All That We Are.”

I Hope You’re Happy closes with “Further Dive (The House That Dylan Built)” another orchestral effort that begins with just Furstenfeld and a guitar but builds towards something epic, magnanimous and undeniably potent. The song’s final three minutes yield to celestial noise and makes for a charming book end to an album that has few, if any, duds.

I Hope You’re Happy is as strong as it is should not be a giant surprise. Now nearly two decades into their career, Furstenfeld and Co. have found a veneer and an ethos that works for them. Never once during the entire 40+ minutes is there a feeling that the band is mailing it in, resting on its laurels and going through the motions. That adherence to authenticity, sincerity and truth is exactly what America needs right now and it’s no surprise it comes from one of America’s most criminally underrated bands.

Had a long week? Give I Hope You’re Happy 40 minutes today and let it work wonders on your heart. Yes, it’s that good. Heck, it’s not good, it’s important. Better yet, it’s vital.

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