Cobra Starship Very Unsubtly Touch Down

noah | August 11, 2009 10:00 am

Our look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to Hot Mess, the new album by Cobra Starship: • “The band does throw in a bit of seriousness, with the lovely ‘Fold Your Hands Child,’ which has an early Depeche Mode feel in its verses, and the touching ‘The Scene Is Dead; Long Live the Scene,’ which blends hushed vocals with a chorus of new wave prettiness on swooping synths. Hot Mess is like The Killers’ Hot Fuss, only trying to add a better sense of humor and a broader sense of purpose. Cobra Starship succeeds on both counts.” [Glenn Gamboa, Newsday] • “Lucky for him, this time his band have the tunes to back up his bluster, from the strange coup that was getting Gossip Girl‘s Leighton Meester to guest-vocal on lead single “Good Girls Go Bad” to the quizzically titled hyperkinetic rocker ‘Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We’re Famous’ (which steals the chorus of the Damned’s ‘Smash It Up’ — I hope Captain Sensible and crew are getting royalties).” [Daniel Brockman, The Phoenix] • “Like FOB, all the Starship’s songs are about themselves or Pete Wentz, their longtime compatriot and the ostensible subject of the disc’s best track, the buzzy, ’80s-reminiscent disco-punk ditty ‘Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We’re Famous.’ Into the writhing center of this jar of marshmallow fluff descends Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meester. She, or her AutoTuned approximation, guests on ‘Good Girls Go Bad,’ a cheesy and sublime pop track that simultaneously cemented the band’s reputation (it was a huge hit) and shattered their cred (it was co-written by American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi). It’s around this time that the charismatic, frenetic Hot Mess starts to feel draining, its knowing winks start to feel like elbows to the ribs, and the whole thing begins to feel like the musical equivalent of G.I. Joe, a guilty pleasure that exhausts as much as it pleases.” [Allison Stewart, Washington Post] • “Hot Mess is a really great album. It’s definitely a leap forward for the band. It’s smart and funny and fun. Yet, because Cobra Starship made it, the album probably won’t be embraced by the music-journo community that would probably love it if they gave it a chance. That’s a shame, but it’s sort of inevitable. Of course, don’t think for a second Cobra Starship don’t realize this already. Or that they care. It takes a special kind of self-awareness to make an album like Hot Mess, the same kind that makes Saporta dress like a DayGlo grunge god and the same kind that drives the band to name songs ‘Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We’re Famous.’ It’s sorta brilliant, really. And so is their album. But don’t take my word for it — after all, I’m friends with the band.” [James Montgomery, MTV]