So I got the new Baroness album last week, something I was pretty excited about hearing. I'd heard it was a bit different to their other albums, being a double album with two distinct feels for starters. But also that it sounded a lot different. And when I heard it I had to agree - this wasn't the Baroness I knew.
This isn't going to be a review of the album, for that you can head here, or here, or just buy the darn thing and review it yourself. It's more about a band completely changing their sound, and therefore throwing their established fanbase off kilter.
Most of the reviews I've read of the album all cover the change in sound pretty heavily. It's hard to ignore, but when the focus is on the fact that the band now sounds different it's a little hard to then objectively review the album, or allow a reader of the review to form an objective opinion. And bands do change.
As much as fans want to go along to a concert and hear the same "hit" songs everytime they see a band, or be able to put on a new album and be instantly familiar with the sound, for a band (or anyone involved in any sort of creative enterprise) in can be stifling and soul-destroying to be limited to churning out what is essentially the same thing over and over. To remain creative and therefore interested in what you're doing, you need to explore and evolve.
As a photographer, I look forward to the opportunities to take photos in different environments - as much as I love photographing live music, to be stuck doing only that for any great length of time would quickly put an end to any desire to do anything creative or interesting with it. So when I get the chance to photograph bands offstage, or landscapes, or just people being people, it helps me grow as a photographer and prevents boredom setting in.
Musicians are no different, so it makes perfect sense from a creative point of view for Baroness to explore their sound and come up with something new and interesting, both for them and for the listener. The alternative would leave them feeling unfulfilled, and while it might make some fans happy, it would just serve to alienate other listeners, who wanted something new, not just a rehash of the same sound.
So remember that next time you think you're disappointed when you're favourite band puts out an album that sounds different to what you were expecting; or the next time a band comes through and doesn't play the songs that you want to hear, the songs that you've been singing along to for the last 10 years. It doesn't make it a bad album, or a bad show, it makes it interesting. And after a few listens the new Baroness is awesome.
As always your thoughts and opinions are welcome - just chuck them in the word hole down below.