Monday, February 26th, 2018

AJR ft. Rivers Cuomo – Sober Up

Hot Jukebox tip: Never listen to this while hungover!


Alfred Soto: The fuck did it take so long for an act to combine Vampire Weekend’s sampled strings and strangled vocals, bro country’s obsession with supine alcoholism, Animal Collective’s fetish for regression, and Walk the Moon’s massed chants? And why wasn’t Rivers Cuomo available earlier?

Jonathan Bradley: “This sounds just like those twerps who made that horrible Spongebob song a few years back,” I thought. Turns out, it is exactly those twerps. I don’t care how many Vampire Weekend records they’ve listened to since then; the only excuse for an adult to be whining about what the “big kids” are doing is if his audience has an average age of…

Will Adams: After pulling stunts like sampling Spongebob and writing a song whose hook goes “I’m weak!”, AJR’s choice to drag Rivers Cuomo onstage for a disconnected bridge here seems almost pleasant. Maybe next time around they’ll realize that they are capable of good choices — the string work adds far more liveliness than the shout-along chorus — and stick to making those.

Micha Cavaseno: Any good potential from “Weak” has quickly been discarded to indulge in the lyrical cliches of the former single as well as a dull sort of baroque pop cash-in with Rivers Cuomo as a cred stamp for the Gen Xers who could be deceived into thinking AJR aren’t pandering in desperate desire for a good middle-of-the-road single. Nothing worse than multiple generations of cynics parading faux-unease banding together to scam you out of your time.

Edward Okulicz: I don’t even like Vampire Weekend, which this sounds like, so this is getting off on the wrong foot from the jump. But worse, it is infested by twee strings and asides like “ello ello!”, and it aggravates by being twitchy and whiny at the same time, a pitfall the real Vampire Weekend are smart enough to avoid.

Hannah Jocelyn: There are some great ideas here: the string line feels organic, and I kind of like the central conceit, a specific spin on a Good Ol’ Days Type Song. But then again, it’s an AJR song featuring Rivers Cuomo. It’s not as patronizing as that sounds, though there’s plenty of that. The verses have the infamous “Millenial Whoop,” but it feels misplaced as a first line instead of in its rightful place as a post-chorus chant. As does the cello line, and as does Cuomo. “My taste in music is your face” is adorable; “my favorite color is yeewww,” not so much. (Also what resonant frequency are you talking about, Rivers; your low end is entirely missing.) The one thing everyone involved can do is write a good chorus melody, but the hook here really sounds like the result of Sisyphean pushing through a writer’s block, which Genius tells me it was. “Sober Up” is a phrase I associate with a much better song, an effortless grand gesture of love that only adds insult to a song that, by nature of its origin, is extremely effortful.

Julian Axelrod: Three vaguely Antonoff-esque dweebs throw early Vampire Weekend, late fun., and any-era Mumford & Sons into an industrial blender and produce a vaguely off-tasting sludge. (Ironically, the only white dudes they don’t echo are Weezer.) I look forward to only encountering these guys at the supermarket and the top lines of festival posters.

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