Serj Tankian
"Elect the Dead"

(Serjical Strike/Reprise Records 2007)Serj Tankian - Elect the Dead

After five albums worth of vocal tomfoolery in System of a Down, vocalist Serj Tankian is flying solo for the first time on "Elect the Dead." And, fair or not, the merits of his new material are going to be weighed against System's complex and incredibly popular catalog of music. Surprisingly, the lyrical content isn't as uniformly political as one might expect on an album titled "Elect the Dead." "You came to me within a dream/not everyone is who they seem," croons Tankian on "Baby," one of the handful of songs with a welcome personal touch. While most of the songs find Serj railing against the government or corporations and stuff, it's nice to see him inject some heart-felt variety into the lyrics. Granted, I had to decipher all of this without the benefit of liner notes, and to be honest, I kind of checked out on Serj's lyrics after that System song about ordering a pizza or something.

Musically, "Elect the Dead" sounds like a simplified System of aDown album. Only a few tracks, especially "The Unthinking Majority," carry the angular (or erratic, depending on you point of view) song structure that marks most System material. The bulk of the album, though, is made up of almost standard rock songs. They are cleverly disguised by Serj's odd vocal patterns, ultra slick production, and piano. Lots of piano. A full third of the tracks on the album have piano intros that all sounds exactly the same.

While it may not mind-bending, "Elect the Dead" is at worst a solid rock album. A few of the songs are quite infectious; chances are good that you will find yourself singing the chorus of "Baby" or "Lie Lie Lie" when you're sure nobody else is around. It's like a girl working at those shady strip clubs you find by the airport: Yeah, "Elect the Dead" looks pretty, but take off its makeup and shine a light on it, and it's just as plain as everything else out there.

B

buy it!