Top 12 Biggest Musical Letdowns of 2012

Categories: That Was 2012

Solid effort guys, but we're not all that into it. Can't go wrong with an El Mac cover, either.
No Doubt, Settle Down

No Doubt'’s been rocking for around 25 years now, and they’'ve definitely still got it.

Gwen Stefani is still an energetic, iconic front woman. The rest of the band hasn'’t lost its touch either. Perhaps it was unreasonable to expect absolute perfection (they can’t all be winners), but given the amount of time the band had to work on this album (11 years), I expected more of the album to consist of radio-friendly material. I was hoping for an album full of songs like “Settle Down,” which sounds like a classic No Doubt hit and is catchy as shit. Perhaps I set myself up for disappointment by doing so. But my biggest problem with Push and Shove is that it lacks the badassness and playful ska/punk attitude of previous No Doubt albums.

I'’ll give the group credit for making an album that has a good mix of different styles and tempos, but some parts of the album seem half-assed and/or untrue to their signature styles. I think Christopher R. Weingarten of Spin dissed the song “"Push and Shove”" the best: “Extra points off for ‘La la la living la vida loca / Speeding up like soca / Just when you think it's over / We be on another level like we're doing yoga.’"

The track "“Looking Hot”" sounds like a Lady Gaga song gone amiss; "“One More Summer"” sounds like it was rescued from the '90s, where it should have stayed; "“Easy”" could have easily soundtracked an '80s film.

Put simply, while it's not a record full of B-sides or filler, it certainly doesn'’t sound like their best work. While not every new album can be the next “best thing ever,” No Doubt just didn’'t bring their A game on this one. -- Lenni Rosenblum

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Here

The only constant is change for Alex Ebert, who continues to reinvent himself with each musical endeavor. While fronting the power pop group Ima Robot, he sported a very Myspace-friendly asymmetrical haircut and developed a drug habit from partying too hard. After a few stints in rehab, he "cleaned himself up" by growing his hair out and assuming the messianic Edward Sharpe moniker.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' debut album Up From Below was a refreshing change from Ima Robot's sound, even if it was a bit inconsistent. Ebert's charming duet with Jade Castrinos, "Home" is a stand out track that makes up for Ebert's weird mumbling on the Old West-inspired "Kisses Over Babylon."

Strangeness is Edward Sharpe's leading appeal. Ebert's transition to a hippie singing about love may seem a bit disingenuous, but the majority of Up From Below commands your attention. The same can't be said for the band's sophomore record, Here. Ebert and Castrinos' playful new relationship dynamic is gone, replaced by an almost cult-like obsession with religion. The 11-piece overly happy long haired hippie band dynamic has gone from suspicious to borderline "don't drink the Kool-Aid and end up in Polyphonic Spree."

Here sounds absolutely nothing like its predecessor. Ebert has gone from joyously singing about love and the desert to preaching about God. Sure there's a song about dancing and Castrinos' diddy about fire water, but everything else sounds like the soundtrack to an old-timey revival. The closest thing to a love song is "That's What's Up," where the religious imagery continues as Castrinos sings variations of, "you'll be the church, I'll be the steeple." At best, Ebert channels classic folk and the album is consistent to a fault. It desperately needs a change in theme, even if it ends up being as weird as "Kisses Over Babylon." -- Melissa Fossum

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