Almost nine years since his last studio release, the sublime ’55 Cadillac, and seventeen (yes, seventeen!) years since his seminal (and by far his most well-known) album, I Get Wet, motivational speaker, classically trained pianist, and 24-hour party person Andrew W.K. is back.
You’re Not Alone combines W.K.’s hard rock stylings with short, self-help tape style segments featuring his trademark motivational speeches. These often touch on very dark topics and seem to be inspired by the recent high-profile tragic suicides in the rock scene. These speeches try and imbue a new lease for life, explaining that we can’t beat our demons, but we can ‘party with them’.
These definitely fit in with the lyrical style of the album. The first full-length track on the album is the uplifting ‘Music is Worth Living For’. Other positive, uplifting tracks featured are ‘Keep on Going’, ‘(We Won’t) Give Up on You’, which sounds almost like a fanfare, and the album’s title track, ‘You’re Not Alone’. The overbearing feeling of the album, even down to the art, is that of a hard rock motivational tape. It makes sense, as that’s what Andrew W.K. does the best, but I find it difficult to square off with some of the other tracks on the album.
Alongside self-help, the other theme of the album is W.K.’s staple: partying. One track that seems (to me, anyway) to break with the theme of the album is ‘Party Mindset’. It explains how W.K. apparently needs no friends to party, which sort of goes against the title of the album.
While there are some technically brilliant and exquisitely produced tracks on this album, the driving hard rock guitars just don’t seem that driving, the punchy drums aren’t that punchy, and the lyrics are often a little quieter than they should be. The whole album has this quiet, muted, feeling, and lacks the raw energy and punch W.K. had on I Get Wet. While I appreciate that this was 17 years, ago, it seems that subtle changes to the mixing could have really brought out that energy. You can still hear Andrew really giving the lyrics his all, but the number of layers on pretty much every track seem to drown it out.
While this is by no means a bad album and the message is truly uplifting, it makes me feel like some key part is missing, that would complete the whole thing and make it truly great.