You’re Not Alone – Andrew WK Review
Review by: Zephyr Goza
Rating: 5/5 Hands
First, let me preface this by stating an obvious bias: an autographed Andrew WK poster hangs over my stairwell, and another in my hall; I have seen him in his notoriously high-energy live concert no less than 10 times, and during a number of those ended up onstage; an Andrew WK air freshener dangles from the rearview mirror of my Chevrolet; the words “Party Hard” are indelibly inked on my right arm in Andrew’s own handwriting. In other words, I am not an Andrew WK fan so much as I am an Andrew WK ambassador.
So yes, clearly, I was ecstatic when Andrew WK announced his first studio album in 10 years, titled You’re Not Alone.
My obvious predisposition to like this album aside, I thought it would be an excellent album to review, because it also makes excellent jumping in point. Most people fall short of understanding the near-religious fervor with which I extol the virtues of the works of the self-proclaimed King of Partying, or seem confused by the degree to which I embrace “partying” as a philosophy. Some dismiss it as sophomoric nonsense – (someone who seems to just yell the word “party” at every opportunity should hardly be considered a motivational speaker or have his own advice column) and others still insist that Andrew WK isn’t a real person, depending on how much time you have to jump down that particular rabbit hole.* “Isn’t partying just hanging out with your friends and drinking?” Yes. No. Sort of. The trick is, everything counts as partying, and that’s what makes You’re Not Alone such an ideal introductory work.
*he is, for the record.
While subtlety has never been synonymous with the Andrew WK brand, this album is actually less subtle in its intent than any of Andrew’s previous work, if that’s even possible. Wherein previous albums were bombastic in production and musicality, they dealt with their subject matter in broader strokes, as in the case of 2006 release Close Calls With Brick Walls. Where that album is a favorite of mine for its more opaque lyrics and challenge to what many consider to be the Andrew WK “thing”, this album is a favorite of mine for its more direct approach: after an appropriately built-up instrumental introduction, Music is Worth Living For kicks the door off the hinges and loudly announces its arrival. Like virtually every song on this album, the production is built up with layer on layer of wide sound, soaring off the speakers with power metal sensibility. If the music wasn’t enough to boldly announce what this album is about, the chorus makes it irrevocably clear: “Music makes life worth living/music is worth living for/a higher power that I hear tonight/music makes me feel so high”.
Everything those familiar with Andrew’s body of work would expect is present here. The piano is the foundation on which this party house is built, and his trademark, musically-shouted vocals and powerful drums virtually grab you by the neck and insist – nay, demand that you headbang.
At the same time, there’s something different here; an unapologetic positivity that was always under the surface, but this time manifests itself in every form it can think of, a direction highlighted by the bold creative choice to have Andrew deliver three small motivational speeches throughout the album. “Deep down inside, we don’t want an easy life; we want an amazing life, and the strength to love it with all our heart,” he intones in one such speech shortly before launching into The Devil’s on Your Side, my personal favorite track on the album. (If the piano breakdown at about a minute and twenty doesn’t make you want to punch lightning in the face, you’re wrong.)
For all its departures, this album is probably the closest thing to what Andrew WK is – to what the man, or the music, or whatever you want to call it represents – that exists. If you’re looking for a jumping off point, or just something to headbang to, this is it. And if you’re still not sure whatever it’s all about, that’s okay; I don’t know either, and sometimes I think even Andrew has trouble figuring it out.
But he keeps on partying.