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When I heard Lauren & Matt were teaming up to write songs about many different fandoms, I knew without a moment's hesitation that I would be buying the album. Their Lee Scoresby song released last year was amazing and I am a multi-fandom fangirl.

I ended up buying this album digitally on, something I rarely do. I had $5 in credits in my account there from a promotion and the album wasn't available on iTunes yet. Plus, I already had Nargles in the Mistletoe from Jingle Spells 2, so I only needed to buy the other 7 songs.

The name- The White Album. I love it. You've got a great Beetles reference (and what says fangirl better than the Beetles?) and a reference to the color of the polar bear on the cover.

The cover- That bearcub is SO of the cute! I can't get over the cute. But the pawprint logo is a little dark and hard to see. I would have liked it just slightly lighter.

The track listings- it's not a very long album; it's more of a long EP in length. It feels very light to me; possibly because I bought the songs individually, or possibly because it's just not that substantial as far as songs go for what I think of as an album.

1. In Which Buffy Slays Edward- Awesome. This song pretty much sums up my feelings about the current state of vampire obsession in the world right now (although my arguments would of course contain mentions of some of the other vampire shows of late). It's almost ridiculous to compare a strong character like Buffy to helpless Bella. And it is certainly insane to compare the amazing writing in the show from Joss with Stephenie Meyer's books. The song makes many excellent points and, indeed, I would be happy if Buffy would just go ahead and slay Edward and save Bella (and the rest of us) from seriously unhealthy relationships. This song is upbeat, catchy, fun, and definitely makes me smile.

2. Peeing In a Bottle- Ha-HA! It's a filk/parody but a really well done one. The lyrics are perfect, and the presentation is great. Speaking of presentation, John Green's reaction to the song is priceless! Paper Towns wasn't my favorite of his books, but I did love it muchly and I especially love songs that cover little events specifically. This is so of the silly, and I love it for that.

3. We're On Fire- On a whole, I really love this song. It's my favorite song on the album right now (I've only listened all the way through on repeat 15 times over the past few workdays). The Hunger Games is such a powerful series, though, so a song about it had to at least live up to half of what the story and characters are. Lauren & Matt do a great job in the song of covering emotions and touching on events from Katniss' and Peeta's points of view. The duet format works beautifully for this and the tone is soft and pretty but a little chilling at the same time, which fits the books perfectly. This song makes my heart ache at times, but it's that "We're on fire" line that really made me fall in love with the song. Every time that line comes up I can't help but smile and feel joy rising up inside me. Which is actually where my only criticism of the song comes in. The song is very wordy; and usually I LOVE words. And in order to cover the subject matter the way the song wants to do, you have to say a lot. However, what I REALLY instinctively wanted in this song was a good, strong chorus of just a few lines to break up the long verses... and I wanted that chorus to repeat almost identically to show that bond they have and the fact that, even though they're approaching the games from different angles and with different emotions, they're there together. They are on fire both literally and figuratively. And when I hear that "We're on fire" line (gorgeous choice of music for it, BTW) I get hopeful about that familiar chorus I want need, even if there is a slight variation at the end or something. But I don't get one. I do get that single line repeated, but the rest is different words each time. They're awesome words, don't get me wrong. The "Eleven years working up the courage/But no such courage came/Until Effie Trinket called my name" lines are wonderful. And at the end, when they go back and forth with the escalating arguement starting with "It was all for the games, wasn't it" "Peeta, I just saved our lives" I get chills. SO good. It's just that I love the "We're on fire" line lyrically and musically and felt like it should have been expanded. I don't know. I'm not a musician or a songwriter. It's just something I feel when I hear the song. It's still my favorite on the album, though :-)

4. Lee Scoresby's Last Stand- I loved this when I first heard the demo. Then, oddly, I fell out of love with it because it felt like it was lacking something, I think. Maybe it felt too long? I don't remember. When I heard it again on this album, I was right back in love. Lee Scoresby is one of my favorite characters in His Dark Materials and this is a powerful song about his courage and sacrifice. I love the bit about him thinking of Lyra as his daughter. I love the line to Hester about being happy to die here with her. *tears up* The upbeat tune is amazing. And, once again, the composition of this group works SO well here when you get to the chorus and you have Lee & Hester singing together; it blows me away every time. THAT'S the kind of chorus I wanted and it works so well in this bouncy song. It's amazing that a part of the book that had me in tears can be shown in SUCH an uplifting song. OMG He's freakin' dying and it's horrible and sad and, yet, all I can see is his strength and loyalty and what his death made possible (even when the song gets quieter and slower). It's really amazing. THIS is what fandom songs are all about. They let you explore different sides of characters and scenes and themes. This is perfection. Also, the bridge, with "We held them off/We held out/We're helping Lyra" is fantastic. The harmonies, the emotion, the everything. Yeah. I'm seriously in love with it again.

5. The Ballad of Seth and Summer- The OC is one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures (I really only have a couple, but it's definitely one of them). It's about time for some OC music *EG* The song really captures Seth here; the lyrics are so fitting. Every time I listen to this song and get to the coffee cart bit I grin like an idiot. "I'm not asking you to change the girl you are/I only ask that you be true" *happy sigh* I wish I had a guy in my life right now to say that to me :-) But that's SO something Seth would say/feel, and something it took Summer a damn long time to realize. The emotion in the chorus is epic. But the real brilliance in this song comes from the music itself. It immediately shouts "California!" It's a PERFECT example of what I like most from fandom music-when an artist's style is there, consistent, but the sound of the song is different and fits the subject matter perfectly. Brilliant.

6. Nargles in the Mistletoe- I didn't buy this song again, because I already owned it and the samples online didn't make it sound like it was a different version. I really love the song. It is fun and clever and a hoot to sing along to. The arrangement is great, the lyrics are great, but I already owned it. On an already short album, it was kind of sad to see one fewer song to get to know. I mean, it's fine. And for a band that came together because of Wizard Rock, it makes sense to have at least one Harry Potter song on there to represent the fandom. I guess I would have preferred it to be a new version of an existing song or even "A Heart Can Change." Of course, the last song on this album would have been a little redundant after "A Heart Can Change" so maybe it's just as well. Oh, you know what would have kicked serious arse here? A mash-up of "Nargles in the Mistletoe" and "I Believe in Nargles." Yes. That's my final answer.

7. A Born Again Christian Upon Reading the Da Vinci Code- Hmm. I kind of wish I hadn't bought this one. I was on the fence about it for a while, but in the end I went ahead and bought it because it felt stupid to have EVERY other song on the album and not have this one. I bought it for completion's sake. First off, I'm not a born again Christian. I'm not a Christian of ANY kind. And I didn't particularly like the Da Vinci Code--not because of the "changes" it made to Christian mythology, but because I didn't think it was very good/well-written/mysterious/clever/shocking. And I liked reading Angels & Demons even less, but at least that movie had Ewan. As a song, it's fine. It captures just what the title proposes-someone coming to terms with a fandom's choices, making sense of it--things I can definitely relate to as a fangirl. And I can totally respect the reaffirmation of faith by the end of the song. In fact, that "We are worthy of his love" coupled by the "Hare Krishna" montra bits at the end is my favorite part of the song because it sounds so beautiful. It's a good song, it just doesn't MEAN anything to me in my heart the way the other songs on the album do, because the Bible and the Da Vinci Code are not, well, fandoms of mine. I could have lived without it, personally, but I fully respect the song and its inclusion on the album.

8. Let's Get Our Master's Degrees in Love- Not sure how I feel about this one. It's a totally valid choice to have a song about the Armoured Bearcub members on the first Armoured Bearcub album. But it is a different type of song. I think I would have been completely fine with it being there if the album had more songs on it. But when I get to this part of the album I just want more fandom goodness. Perhaps this is because song number 7 isn't really my kind of thing and song number 6 is old-to-me. I want more fandom awesomeness and what I get is real life. It's good real life, though. Take it from someone who has an "Almost Master's". I finished my coursework, defended my thesis, and then had a mental breakdown and never got my thesis turned in to earn my official degree. I am slowly coming to terms many years later that it just wasn't for me, in the end. Do I regret it? Yeah, a bit. But I'm okay with it. Master's degrees aren't for everyone... and this is a sweet, fun song with great emotion in it. I probably would have preferred an all-fandom album, to be honest, but they chose to put a RL song on there and I can accept that choice. It's a great song, and a great last song on the album. In fact, I hope the NEXT Armoured Bearcub album follows the same pattern of a bunch of fandom songs and ends with one about them; that's a pattern I could definitely get behind.

On a whole, it's a great album and I'm really glad I bought it. I might end up not listening to it as an album in the future, or skipping over the last few songs if I do. But the first 5 songs are more than worth purchasing the album for. Wizard Rock has ruined me--I now EXPECT music now to go with fandoms I love. Lost music? Yep, got that. Feeling in the mood for Doctor Who? There's TRock. Twilight? Well, it exists, but I've never listened to it and don't think I ever want to. But what about other fandoms? That's where Armoured Bearcub comes in. It fills that glaring void and makes me one happy multi-fandom fangirl!


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February 2012

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