ARTIST:

BILLY HOWERDEL

(UNITED STATES)
TITLE:

WHAT NORMAL WAS

(2022)
LABEL:

BMG

GENRE:

POP

TAGS:
80's, Electro, Melancholic
"With "What Normal Was", Billy Howerdel goes to the end of the ideas developed with A Perfect Circle and resurrects post-punk and cold wave."
NEWF (23.09.2022)  
4/5
(0) opinions from our readers (0) comment(s)

His new musical direction was already evident on "Eat The Elephant", the last album of A Perfect Circle. With this first solo album under his name (Ashes Divine was already a solo project), Billy Howerdel goes to the end of his ideas. "What Normal Was" is the post-punk and cold wave album that all the nostalgic of Depeche Mode, The Cure, Siouxsie and The Banshees or Cocteau Twins were waiting for without really believing.

If you think about it, all this is perfectly coherent. Before being Tool's guitar tech, and thus meeting Maynard James Keenan with whom he founded A Perfect Circle, Billy Howerdel was Nine Inch Nails' guitar tech. Trent Reznor having never hidden his admiration for Depeche Mode and Joy Division, the two men probably had a lot to talk about. Especially since, like any musician whose adolescence was rocked by the new wave of the 80's, Billy's musical influences were forged by the sound of drum machines and synthetic keyboards.

The great success of "What Normal Was" is precisely to avoid all the kitsch pitfalls which could have burden the album, whose majority of the compositions plunge us back into 40 years old musical atmospheres. On the contrary, even if it is quite nostalgic, this album proves to be strangely modern, thanks on the one hand to Billy Howerdel's talent as a composer and on the other hand, to his assumed choice to use guitars only when they are strictly necessary, privileging keyboards, bass and electro ambiences. It is there all the science of composition of the musician whose instrument of preference remains the guitar but whose main ambition is first and foremost to write good songs.

From this point of view, "What Normal Was" is an undeniable faultless. Each track has its own musical color, leering alternately towards Depeche Mode ('Selfish Hearts', 'Follower'), The Cure ('Free And Weightless', 'Bring Honor Back Home') and the dark wave ('Ani', 'Beautiful Mistake'), while creating disturbing and subtle bridges with the last album of A Perfect Circle ('Poison Flowers'). From this subtlety of writing is born in the course of the listenings a palpable emotion, between contemplative reverie (the magnificent 'EXP', the very moving 'Stars') and nostalgia of an era that many, before this album, thought definitively gone.

In the 80's, "What Normal Was" would have probably been qualified as a masterpiece. Today, in the middle of the current production and in spite of the renewed interest of some for the synthwave, it is rather like a nostalgic nugget for those in their fifties. Unless a certain youth seizes it to make a revival of the post-punk, who knows? It is all the evil that we wish him because Billy Howerdel put all his heart in it, and that really hears.


More informations on https://www.facebook.com/billyhowerdel





TRACK LISTING:
01. Selfish Hearts
02. Free And Weightless
03. Ani
04. Beautiful Mistake
05. The Same Again
06. Poison Flowers
07. Follower
08. Bring Honor Back Home
09. Exp
10. Stars

LINEUP:
Billy Howerdel: Chant / Guitares / Basse / Claviers
Josh Freese: Batterie
   
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