14 years ago, Axl Rose began writing music for an album called “Chinese Democracy”. Last week, it was released. It has reportedly cost over 13 million dollars to produce. The album, which was delayed numerous times over the last decade, became a running joke of the music industry. The Offspring even threatened to name one of their albums “Chinese Democracy” but later changed the title.
In any event, it is a major release. Right? After 14 years and 13 million bucks the album better be something that rattles the soul. I’ve decided to go track by track.
1. “Chinese Democracy”
Hmmm ambient noise followed by Chinese people speaking. I suppose they’re speaking freely, as in a democracy. I get this album already. Very hard hitting guitars lead to Axl’s trademark wail. The guitar solo sounds like a Tom Morello rip off. Axl sounds awful so far. Sort of a guttural moan that becomes completely unintelligible towards the end. I had to look up the lyrics to figure out what he was saying and wasn’t surprised when the person who posted the lyrics interpreted one of the lines like this:
“And with your ? makes you stop”
So far this doesn’t ? well for the rest of ? album.
2. “Shackler’s Revenge”
The most offensive sound just came out of my headphones. The beginning of this song starts like an engine room of an oil tanker sounding an alarm. I guess it’s edgy.
“I’ve got a funny feeling
There’s something wrong today
I’ve got a funny feeling
And it won’t go away
I’ve got an itchy finger
And there’ll be Hell to pay
I’m gonna pull the trigger
And blow them all away”
I don’t think we’ve seen lyrical prowess of this caliber since Fred Durst hung up his red baseball cap. This is all followed by more Morello guitars.
This is the first track where Axl actually sounds like vintage Axl. Even though this has been the best track so far, I can’t help but be dumbfounded by this record. It is so hopelessly trapped in the 90s. There is nothing modern about it. Axl is still doing the same music he was doing before, just in 2008. It’s like when Samwise Gamgee thaws Brenden Fraser in “Encino Man” and tries to integrate him into modern day Los Angeles.
4. “Street of Dreams”
Ooh a piano ballad. Come see the softer side of Axl. Is it me or did Axl borrow Kanye West’s auto-tune machine on this track? Axl sounds like he’s crying through this song.
“And though as long as this road seems
I know it’s called the street of dreams
But that’s not stardust on my feet
It leaves a taste that’s bittersweet
That’s called the blues”
That’s deep, Axl. I see the 14 years of rewrites and revisions have paid off.
5. “If the World”
This one has a Carlos Santana vibe. You can imagine my disappointment when Rob Thomas never shows up. Gn’R getting a little funky.
“i never thought all the love i was looking for
could ever be so close to me
you’re the only one i have ever loved and has ever loved me
and now you’ve got the best of me”
I can’t tell if this is a hard rock record or a very special episode of “Dawson’s Creek”.
6. “There Was a Time”
This is becoming laborious.
7. “Catcher in the Rye”
The most appropriate title of the album yet. He’s this close to just calling everyone “phonies” and fucking up Stradlater’s English homework. Axl sounds like a disillusioned teenager on this record. For the record, he’s 46. This song is indicative of the record as a whole. It’s hopelessly clumsy and jumbled. The vocals and the guitars are at odds with each other. Not at all on the same page. For something that took over a decade to make it feels thrown together.
The vocals that open this song made me do a spit take they were so funny. This song makes P.O.D. seem progressive. I guess they’re trying to rock with this one. Still, it’s another angsty, unintelligible mess.
“Sometimes I feel like
It’s all opened up for me
I am inconquerable
No one canmake you
Do what they want to
You know you’re stronger
Than the lies
That they tell you”
8. “Riad N’ The Bedouins”
Riyadh and the bedouins
Got a plan and walk right in
But I don’t give a fuck ’bout them
‘Cause I am crazy
Sorry Axe but you lose your “crazy” street cred when you resemble Bo Derek only with more botox.
I don’t accept the apology.
I can’t do this anymore. There are 5 tracks left but I’m crying ‘uncle’. I don’t really know what I expected with this record. I do know, however, that if you spend this long on a record it should at least sound like something that a lot of work was put into. This doesn’t. I hate this record.