New Sacred Cow, by Kenna
Admittedly, Kenna is far more obscure of an artist than most of those whose albums I review, but I heard about him from an audiobook by Malcolm Gladwell, “Blink,” that discussed how the verdict of music insiders and that of casual listeners was very different when it came to his work. I listened to all of the music videos I could readily find and found I liked all the songs so I figured it would be worthwhile to listen to his entire discography, which consists of three albums. Here is a track-by-track review:
Within Earshot: A glitchy and moody intro track of only 1:20 in length, this album introduces the album with a tuneful piece of electronic alternative music.
Freetime: The first single from the album, this track is an excellent piece of electronic alternative music that has an arresting music video as well. It is catchy and punchy and certainly won the singer quite a few devoted fans.
Man Fading: This song is a spare electronic song with an interesting melody as well as very straightforward lyrics about feeling like one is fading and longing for satisfaction and improvement despite their difficulty.
Sunday After You: A beautiful electronic introduction precedes a song that is rich with lyrics about the disorienting power of love, even though the singer/songwriter seems rather pessimistic about how things are going between them.
Vexed And Glorious/ A Better Control: This song has more intriguing electronic music along with lyrics that show a great deal of wit and intelligence in blaming someone for their lack of devotion and presence in his life. The last minute and a half or so of this more than six minute track have an interesting robotic voice and futuristic music.
Redman: An upbeat introduction moves into an intriguing song that has clever wordplay and a catchy hook and more moody reflections on a troubled relationship. This is the sort of song that could easily have been a hit in a better world.
Yeneh Ababa: A beautiful and gloomy ballad, this song ponders whether the pain of someone’s life outweighs the blessings, wondering if that person is lonely. There are intriguing vocal effects, and this is again another song that could easily have been a crossover hit on the softer side of Kenna’s music.
War In Me: The second single from this album, this song is a beautiful and tense discussion of the war that exists within the singer between different mindsets and perspectives and this is certainly a worthwhile and immensely enjoyable song with intricate instrumental layers.
New Sacred Cow: This upbeat and driving title track shows the singer being rather pointed about being looked down on and mistrustful of relationships that never seem to work out for him.
I’m Gone: Some interesting vocal samples and intriguing electronic sound effects mark this intelligent song about the singer’s anxiety and fear about the state of the world. Despite the heaviness of the song, though, the lyrics and hook are definitely catchy.
Siren: This song is a catchy and intelligent song about a femme fatale, where the singer shows an awareness that nothing is going to change with a heartbreaker who is nonetheless attractive despite the troubles that she causes.
Love/Hate Sensation: A beautiful melodic instrumental part and some excellent beats undergird this lovely song about the problems that result from the powerful ambivalence felt by the singer about his life and situation. Given the singer’s ambivalence about the music industry, the song is a fitting conclusion to the singer/songwriter’s debut album.
Overall, it is mysterious why this album was not more popular and why it did not spawn some hits. After all, there is nothing that describes this album more than influential or tuneful or excellent. There isn’t a weak song on here, and at least four of the songs on this album should have been crossover hits. This album, more or less, sounds like what Linkin Park’s “One More Light” or the recent efforts by bands like Fall Out Boy would sound like if they were actually good and if their electronic music elements were balanced by strong songwriting. Unfortunately, this album simply has not caught on with a large audience.