Andrew W.K. has always been a topic of discussion despite having a rather limited discography for somebody who has a rather diverse output. From I Get Wet which is a barrage of hard rock from start to finish to his early noise output under various pseudonyms, to forays in piano music and even a cover of the Gundam ‘79 soundtrack, Andrew W.K. is a prime example of somebody who does well in splitting the concept of what is “enjoyable”, and what is objectively “good” (whatever that means).
While many have pondered over just how serious Andrew W.K. is when it comes to his output, I have always been a staunch believer that his work is genuine to how he feels, as humor is a legitimate output. This brings us to the first release by Andrew W.K. in nine years, and the first time in a while that these albums were able to see a US release. You’re Not Alone creates a mind boggling experience as the energy from albums like I Get Wet is present, yet the lyricism is one of the most genuine outputs thus far for professional partier Andrew W.K.
Instrumentally, Andrew W.K. dials up the cheese to 11 on You’re Not Alone. From the first instrumental ballad that is “The Power of Partying”, one can tell that Andrew has developed a decent way from I Get Wet (and definitely wanted to continue some of the fun he must have had during Gundam Rock). This sets up as a rather fine intro to songs like “Music is Worth Living For,” and “I Don’t Know Anything” which comes to instantly satisfy any hunger for barrages of energy found in Andrew W.K’s first few albums. The main difference however within this album is the topics of the lyrics, and slight variations in the instrumentation. First off, Andrew W.K. ensures that the piano is very much present as a part in the mix. While piano is present in albums like I Get Wet, it’s used quite a bit more on here which somehow amplifies the cheeriness on this album. The main difference however comes from the lyricism, and it stands as the biggest indicator that Andrew W.K. has matured throughout his music career.
Before you get too excited to listen to this album, there isn’t a “Ready To Die” or “Party Hard” anywhere near this album, Andrew’s message is one that comes straight from his heart. This album is completely focused on being uplifting to the listener. Andrew W.K.’s central message is that everyone gets down once in a while and that we have to grab life by the horns and carry though to be the best that we can. In concept, it makes me think of a Flaming Lips that favored coke over psychedelics. Unlike the Flaming Lips however, Andrew W.K. brings the motivational speaking to his album in the form of scattered spoken word tracks which do quite well considering how well spoken Andrew W.K. is.
“Give Up On You” shows Andrew’s dedication to anybody who’s down and provides a strong reminder that the power of friendship can help overcome quite a bit. It does it in a way that almost removes all predispositions that you would have of friends at that point, it doesn’t matter if you view friends as fake, in fact it doesn’t matter what grievances you have of your friends whatsoever. Andrew W.K. conveys a message that we’re all in this together regardless of our situation. This isn’t a message for everyone, and it’s one that disconnects itself from environmental factors that the listener may be going though, yet Andrew W.K. doesn’t do this by accident. I can’t even cite a single song as just about every song on this beefy 16 song album shows that it really doesn’t matter, and that Andrew W.K. very much believes that we have an internal locus of control.
After nine years of no musical output (and a tour of motivational speaking which sat around the middle of that period), I can’t help but imagine that this album comes off as more jarring than when Ween released “Quebec.” The mature, and genuine work from Andrew W.K. doesn’t really sound all that different from the earlier work, yet would leave critics in a bind as Andrew has confirmed that he is serious about his craft. An outsider would just look in confused, wondering how this wouldn’t be considered just a work of satire. It sits somewhere in between Kirin J. Callinan’s “Bravado” and Pandora’s Box’s “Original Sin”, it’s not overproduced as some sort of joke, it’s the only sound that Andrew W.K. could envision pairing with the concept. For every person who would walk away from this album cursing it as satiric shit, there’s another out there blasting it out of their speakers while going 80 down the freeway since they’ve been imbued with a strong sense of energy from just how uplifting this album is, despite its cheese.