The Android Angel’s “Glow Worm” (30 Novmeber 2009 via download) flew right under my radar when it was first released. It was while visiting a friend, who was playing the album in the background, that I became aware of “Glow Worm” and was instantly curious. The opening track, “Music of the Android Angel,” is a catchy ditty, but belies the tour de force that was about to follow. It was almost as if the song was written to be the lighthearted opening track of the album, and, as a result, does not pack the visceral power or solid craftsmanship of the rest of the album. Laced with a nice arpeggio and a harmonica (and a strange monologue), the song boarders on a new wave sensibility not present elsewhere on the album, but as the second track rolls in, “Second Base,” you realize that the songwriting deserves cred.
The Android Angel is really Paul Colto; the moniker he has chosen to write under really is a misnomer. There is nothing “android” about the album; actually, it is warm and visceral in such a good way. A multi-instrumentalist, Colto is credited with the composition of the entire album and a slew of instruments: guitar, bass, piano, drums, harmonica, accordion, keyboards, etc… (Live, two other musicians are on stage.) And lyrically, Colto is able to hit those universals; like in “Second Base,” “..stuck on second base, I feel my life’s gone wrong, I feel all hope is gone…” But it is the third track that really grabs you. “In Communique” opens with beautiful strumming; one of my biggest critiques of so many guitarists is their inability to strum beautifully. Colto’s is not only fluidic (odd for the combination of chords), but also it is emotive. And then you hear those final words of the stanza, “Because if I can’t wake up with you, why am I so in love with you?” Bingo, the universal angst of not being able to have what we want.
The album continues to sweep through many themes that most 20’s / 30’s something will easily relate to. “Unfinished Business” capitalizes on that feeling of being lost, while “My Virus Crown,” in Colto’s word, “I’m Not Alright” (how difficult it is for us to admit that we are “wrong” and not the world around us). But the next track leaves you to think a bit: “Wheels” is not that acoustic. All of the sudden, the acoustic nature of the album starts to give way to that telecaster. And in the following track, an admission (and another universal truth): “I hate the way I want you, but I need the way I love you…” (“Love With No Reason”). Okay, I know what you may be thinking, “Needy, needy, needy…” But, on an album that Colto seems to be opening and bearing it all, being forthright and not lyrically shamming, the admission goes down nicely; Colto again manages to hit a universal truth, one that we rarely like to admit to ourselves.
I think that people may have two problems with this album. The first is that it is not the “acoustic” fest the band has been touted to be; and that is not Paul Colto’s fault. Expectations are not always a good thing, because they do not always allow us to experience things on their own merits; what is important here is that the craftsmanship of the album is solid. The second is that this is emotionally too bare. Well, in a field where most musicians are lyrically contrived (let’s be realistic, do all of these artists really have such horrible existences, especially the established ones?), it is reassuring that there are other people out there who are emotionally real, with the same sets of feelings and insecurities, like in the closing track, when Colto sings, “I hope it’s not the beginning of the end” (“The Beginning of the End”). Some times a nice dose of mellow reality can do more than forty-five minutes of feigned angst. Check this album out.
1. Music of the Android Angel
2. Second Base
3. In Communique
4. Unfinished Business
5. My Virus Crown
7. Love With No Reason
8. Glow Worm
9. Our Secret
10. For a Sleepless Friend
11. The Beginning of the End
Keep up with The Android Angel at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here is the video for “In Communique” from the paulcolto YouTube Channel.