ANDREW W.K.
"You're Not Alone"

(Sony)

01. The Power of Partying
02. Music Is Worth Living For
03. Ever Again
04. I Don't Know Anything
05. The Feeling of Being Alive
06. Party Mindset
07. The Party Never Dies
08. Give Up on You
09. Keep on Going
10. In Your Darkest Moments
11. The Devil's on Your Side
12. Break the Curse
13. Total Freedom
14. Beyond Oblivion
15. Confusion and Clarity
16. You're Not Alone

RATING: 7/10

At the onset of the millennium, you'd have been forgiven for assuming the party-obsessed pop rock madness of ANDREW W.K. was nothing more than a moment in time. His clear focal point on partying packaged in upbeat, cheerful pop-driven hard rock naturally suggested the shelf-life expiration wasn't too distant. To whatever extent the multi-instrumentalist has indulged in excess, and in spite of the party hardy image ANDREW W.K. obviously wants to project, his ethos seems to be more in line with the concept of carpe diem than full-blown debauchery.

The albums following his juggernaut MEATLOAF-meets-EUROPE debut "I Get Wet" didn't pack the same punch in terms of spirit and impact, and his creative momentum was perhaps derailed by legal issues related to the business side of music. He certainly did manage to stretch his wings creatively during that time, though. His musical output included an instrumental solo piano album, "55 Cadillac", and an oddball covers album featuring music from a Japanese anime sensation, "Gundam Rock". However, he wasn't out of the limelight. ANDREW W.K.'s infectious optimism branched off from his musical expression and manifested itself in the shape of motivational speaking. He has also become a TV and radio personality.

Nearly a decade following his last full-length release, ANDREW W.K. returns to the musical front with "You're Not Alone". And his characteristic cheerfulness that has been further cultivated via his more recent endeavors has come full circle. The hulking frontman looked more like a bully or a jock than a life coach when he first emerged on the music scene, but this far along in the game, few could question the authenticity of his persona. And his more recent, and more overt, motivational speaking personality sits comfortably on this album in the form of three spoken-word interludes.

People are able to connect with and aspire to his level of confidence because it fortunately doesn't cross into the territory of cockiness and arrogance. The singer-songwriter remains humble and vulnerable enough to admit that he doesn't have it all figured out on straight-forward, and appropriately entitled, songs like "I Don't Know Anything", "In Your Darkest Moments", "Beyond Oblivion" and "Confusion and Clarity".

"You're Not Alone" benefits from concise and determined intent with songs that are rich with massive arena-friendly choruses, synth-driven hard rock/pop metal and shameless cock rock bombast. Elton John-like piano-based rockers like "The Devil's on Your Side" might offer enough feel-good energy to make grimacing-faced nihilists smile and want to hug their mothers. "You're Not Alone" isn't anything new, but it isn't bad, and you'll probably feel good after giving it a spin.

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