Alejandro Aranda AKA Scarypoolparty came into my world on American Idol. The absolute awe seen in the judge’s eyes during his initial audition was great to watch. So, let’s start here.
Alejandro would go on to buck the trend of cheesy pop singers and their covers to ride seven original song performances to runner up that year on Idol. (Someday I will write up a blog confession of my never ending love for Idol. I don’t think you would ever guess that from my musical tastes, but again, some other day.)
Words escape me as to how I should describe this. Let’s say, thorough. When he recorded his first two records it was an artist who seemed to explore every toy at his disposal due to his success. As he should have. I think there were mixed results. My thinking is that is the kind of stuff that led to finding where he wanted to go. And the result of that was The Act of Forgiveness.
As you saw in the Idol clip this young man can take a guitar and pick it to a high degree of inspiration. And that is all over this record. Don’t lose sight of its brilliance by how easily he does it. He created my favorite album of the year in nine days. A twenty one track, 105 minute album in nine days! This album has a little bit of all of what he can do and nothing gets lost in it. The songs hold up on their own and they work together.
From the official press release of the album
“The Act of Forgiveness is an album I made with the idea of making each song sound like a movie. It’s an album I am extremely proud of,” says Scarypoolparty. “The Act of Forgiveness is a story I wanted to tell in chapters; the story of love and heartbreak through relationships and how we all react differently, creating movie-like scenarios around life and not wanting to look at the real picture or past our flawed imagination, when we become totally lost in our imagination, and finally how we can lose ourselves in our environment and get totally lost as to what is real and what isn’t.”
The opening song captures us with a beautiful acoustic pop song with sweeping strings (actually an 18-piece orchestra). The deep lyrics come early;
Like our folks, we made a mess
Sometimes God needs a cigarette
Come on. That line says “come on in, this will be good”.
You might think due to some other things I wrote that too much music from one artist dilutes one’s ability to strap in and hear all of it. But, this record is a double album that is perfect. The first few tracks reside in the acoustic realm, maybe even a bit Jason Mrazish or Ed Sheeranish. That first set of songs are built for radio success.
First half video.
If this was on vinyl I would guess track six starts side two of the first album. Here it gets moody and complex, but still anchored in solid pop music. These next few tracks had me hearing elements of The Police, Earth, Wind, & Fire, and Seal.
The interlude video
In what I would then say was the start of the second vinyl album, we get to “The Darkness”, a song that seems to be a movie soundtrack unto itself. This is followed by the eleven minute title track; a journey into Sacrypoolparty’s piano talent. If you watched the Idol audition you heard him say his three musical inspirations were Trent Reznor, Chopin, and Bach. The Chopin track of this album would then be “The Act of Forgiveness”.
If you don’t connect with something on this record I would be surprised. It is so comprehensive, so diverse. .
Back half video
In what would be the final side of vinyl album number two you begin to have no idea what’s coming. It is not like the first half. I love it. There is the Beach House/Future Islands feel of “Death City Drive”. Jam band chaos on “Spelloutriver”. A Viagra Boys driving bass line meets U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky” on “Holy Rejection”. We have a modern day “Synchronicity” that is titled “NYC”. The final track sends us out with the gently sweeping track, “3D”.
As you listen through this, keep in mind it feels like three acts. Tracks 1-11 the pop session. Track 12 -13 are the interlude. Tracks 14-21 are the experiment session. It is not as cohesive as the first half, but I think that’s what I like about it.
This record is genius. The kid is genius. Don’t sleep on genius. If you have to trust me for one record let it be this one.