After celebrating our first birthday earlier in the week, it’s now time to return to reviewing the albums from Copenhagen’s contestants. Today, I’m going to focus on a lady who gave us one of my absolute favourite Eurovision songs from this year: it’s Lithuania’s Vilija Matačiūnaitė, whose new album shares the same name as her ESC entry, “Attention!”
Lithuania unfortunately *just* missed out on a place in 2014’s Eurovision final, which I for one count as a complete travesty since I absolutely love “Attention”, and Vilija’s vocals and performance were incredibly strong. However, whilst the result was a real disappointment, I was over the moon to discover that Vilija had created this, her second album, to coincide with her Eurovision participation – I’m always interested in hearing what else my favourite contestants have to offer, and since “Attention” was such a unique song, I really had no idea what to expect from this album.
What I think we have here is a collection of songs which really reflect and embody the creativity and quirkiness of the artist. You only need to watch one of Vilija’s interviews to realise that she’s got heaps of personality and enthusiasm, and her work ethic shines through in everything she does. Thus, the twelve songs on “Attention!” are all pretty random in their own unique ways, and – like the title track – they may take a few listens before you truly fall in love with them. But I implore you all, please please do persevere, for I honestly believe there’s something here for everybody.
Above is a link to the album’s opening track “Imaginary”, which coincidentally is also the song I think I’d call my favourite from the album. Like “Attention”, it draws from a pseudo-electronic soundscape, and uses great big sweeping cinematic synths to provide a backdrop for Vilija’s smooth vocals – which, can I just point out, are bloody brilliant live! Like seriously, she’s got a hell of a lot of power at both ends of her impressive range; what a singer! The lyrics to this one are really lovely too, and are particularly poignant in the face of the criticism she undeservedly received both before and after Eurovision –
They say I can’t do it,
Even if I slip only once.
They say I’m a loser,
But I believe in myself.
Powerful stuff. And, you know what? Good on her. I really hope she believes in the sentiment of her lyrics, because she has every right to believe in herself, and she has the talent and creativity to prove her naysayers wrong!!
One of the last tracks on the album is “Think Of You”, which according to the above live performance video, has actually been around since 2007!! Still, it’s a very catchy number, and I’ve found myself singing it in my head rather frequently since I downloaded the album. It also demonstrates one of Vilija’s compositional techniques that might not strike the listener at face value: she has the tendency to bury her musical hooks in unexpected places. Just like the killer “I’m gonna make you, make you fall//Down d-d-down down on your knees” bit was in the bridge of “Attention”, this track features a real earworm in the form of the “think of you OOH OOH OOH” passage which forms the post-chorus in “Think Of You”. In short, rather than loading the catchy melodies into the choruses and leaving the rest of the songs feeling a bit cold, Vilija’s album really spreads the hooks around, meaning that you remember different bits of each song, and are kept guessing as you go from one to the next.
As mentioned above, “Attention!” is Vilija’s second album, and she’s had a whole eight years to perfect it since the 2006 release of her début “Mylek”. As a result, you may expect the twelve songs to be polished to perfection, right? Wrong. A lot of them are still endearingly rough around the edges – for example the experimental rock-inspired “Never Never” whose lyrics do at times come across as a bit clumsy, as though they’ve gone “look, we know how to swear in English, so we’re gonna shoehorn ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ into every other line”. But that one aside, the overall impression is that Vilija is an experimental musician who’s not afraid to push boundaries and see what works. On the whole, despite the occasional inevitable faux-pas, what she’s come up with DEFINITELY works! Other highlights for me are the poundingly energetic “Live Today“, the 90s-esque “Leisk Ir Vel” and the sensual “I Need Your Love“.
Basically, what I would say to you is that if you liked “Attention”, then you will love this album. And if you weren’t too keen on “Attention”, I’d still recommend you give it a go – because if one thing can be said about Vilija, it’s that she’s talented, avant-garde, and unpredictable. Have a listen, you might just fall in love.
Jonas Panini from Germany: I like “Days” the most. I also like “Attention” but it did sound better live at the eurovision contest. The song sounds a little bit different on the album, I think it sounds better live without those vocal editing.
Robert Harsanyi from Hungary: The songs are colourful and very entertaining. Especially “Attention”. I’m lovin’ it 😉
Rita Vasarele from Lithuania: All of the songs are very interesting, and I can’t saying that that any disliked 🙂
Jon Ruiz Cisneros from Spain: I seriously love all the songs! Don’t let anyone stop you Vilija Matačiūnaitė! Love from spain!
Vilija’s album seems to have been met with unanimous praise from fans (although these comments were posted on her official facebook page, so they do come from people who are likely to be Vilija fans anyway) Still, I’m glad to read that so many other people enjoyed the album as much as I did; and hopefully you, dear reader, may become the next one to give some of your “Attention” to Vilija and her fab new album? (Ohhhh that was cringey, I do apologise…) … Um yeah, *moving on*… stay tuned for more album reviews, and many other kinds of articles in the next few weeks… and I promise there’ll be no playing on words next time 😛