After two albums many bands try to either reinvent themselves or stick to the same style as their previous two. A Place Where You Belong is somewhere in the middle for The Normals. It is very similar in some respects to their 2000 release Coming to Life, but is in no way a carbon copy of it.
While the album has a very laid back and sometimes depressing feel, it has some very strong messages lyrically. They have the kinds of lyrics that really make you think about life and what's important. They tackle many of the hard topics, such as the lost innocence of people today in the song "Innocence," and vanity and loneliness in the song "Happiness."
"I'll Be Home Soon" starts the album off on a rather somber-yet-hopeful note, as a song about finding your way home in this world. Things pick up a little with their next song "Romeo on the Radio," a song about finding love with that special someone. My favorite song, both musically and lyrically, would be "Less Than Love," one of their more upbeat songs about finding "the one" and how special and unmistakable it is once you've found them. The common theme throughout the song is not settling for just anyone even though it's a lonely world out there.
The songs generally blend together well, and for the most part don't have that monotonous feeling of repetition that's so present in many other albums today. Just like in their previous album, lead singer Andrew Osenga's vocals sound a bit strained, but overall I enjoy the quality of his voice although it took a few listens to get used to. Their choices of instruments are quite fascinating, as well. They used everything from a banjo to an accordion to secure their unique sound.
One thing I found particularly interesting is that I couldn't really think of a band that they model themselves after, so in that respect they are trendsetters. Having a fresh sound is something that all bands strive for, but few attain. The Normals have accomplished just that. They seemed to have found their style and have taken it to a new level. Let's see where it goes from here.- Review date: 3/29/02, written by Jim Preslar
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