The Cinema - My Blood Is Full of Airplanes
Because I'm convinced he knew it would make my year, Leighton Antelman released not one but two albums in very quick succession and, despite my loyalty to Lydia and my excitement over the fact that there was a new Lydia album at all, this is my clear favorite of the two. I think it's because I didn't really have any expectations for it. All I knew was that Antelman and Matt Malpass were teaming up to make some catchy, decidedly un-Lydia-like pop tunes and, as it turns out, My Blood Is Full of Airplanes, despite aptly fitting that description, is far more substantial and memorable than it might imply. The ten songs here are not only catchy pop tunes but damn good and damn catchy pop tunes, so slick and layered with electronics and effects that some may call them overproduced - but, to me, the indulgence works. Malpass' no holds barred production technique turns extremely simple songs like "Kill It" and "Picasso" into sonically intriguing ear candy, massive and instantly infectious. Antelman's incredibly distinctive vocal style is perfectly suited to these types of songs and, surprisingly, despite its familiarity, My Blood Is Full of Airplanes sounds nothing like his work with Lydia. Perhaps that is its most appealing quality: that Antelman and Malpass have committed themselves so fully to their mission of stepping outside of their comfort zone and creating something totally unexpected. "Satellites" and "Kinetic" are downright joyous, more cheerful and upbeat than anyone probably expected from them based on their past endeavors. The songs are unabashedly poppy yet, at the same time, unexpectedly refreshing. Despite their allegiance to a specific genre, they switch melodies and tempos so quickly and with so much ease that the transitions are seamless and natural and there are so many miniscule elements buried in the music that, instead of growing stale with repeated listens, they only grow better. Though these tracks and others like them are rather light and frothy, the album also holds a great amount of emotional depth. "Say It Like You Mean It" is one of the few mid-tempo songs and its catchiness is slightly more subtle; understated verses lead into an explosive chorus built on a simple sentiment that packs a surprising punch: "I don't mean it like I say it and you don't say it like you mean it." Near the end of the album, two songs especially stand out as much darker and more intense than the surrounding tracks. "She's on My Arm Now" is, compared to the rest of the album, quite heavy musically and has a more difficult, disjointed melody. Antelman's vocals here, which we've already witnessed transitioning through their many shades and facets, are a revelation, growing more and more passionate as the song progresses. Upping the intensity even more is the closing title track, which actually sounds quite out of place, but is phenomenal nonetheless. There is no moment on the album more sincere and affecting than when Antelman wails partway through, "Lately I've been thinking about the molecules I've been breathing/And now my skin's so soft it breaks with every breath I'm taking/And now my blood is full of airplanes and they're flying me away/From all these goddamn dirtbag neighborhoods, singing, 'Don't look back, don't you dare look back at me.'" It's a truly chill-inducing moment, just one more indication of how much magic Antelman and Malpass are capable of creating together. Whether or not the Cinema remains an ongoing project, My Blood Is Full of Airplanes is the perfect culmination of their talents and it will prove difficult, maybe even impossible, to ever top.