Busytoby: It’s Good to Be Alive


By Justin Stranzl

Pray that you never end up sitting next to Joe Ziemba and Amanda Lyons at the movies.

Ziemba and Lyons are a couple engaged to be married, and they’ve made an album together called It’s Good to Be Alive. It’s about how much love they have for one another, and how much they like to show it. It’s probably a fun, sentimental listen for Ziemba and Lyons. It’s not much fun for anyone else.

There’s nothing wrong with a couple in love making a record to show off its mutual affection. But listening is painful when the record isn’t very good. It’s Good to Be Alive sounds nearly exactly like Wolfie (of which Ziemba and Lyons are members), and the songwriting leaves plenty to be desired. Boring keyboard parts and Ziemba’s uninspired, whiny vocals (Lyons’ beautiful voice is the only bright spot here) force one’s focus on the cutesy sap, which is unbearable on a 16-song album.

There are a handful of really good tracks, but they get lost amidst the unchanging emotion. It’s Good to Be Alive is up, up, up, and the couple’s constant state of content first becomes boring, then intolerable, rendering any of the album’s positives punchless. Unless being heard by Ziemba and Lyons, the unending cute-core is murder.

Which raises a question regarding It’s Good to Be Alive‘s release: What’s the point? Obviously the album has great value to Ziemba and Lyons, but they could have recorded a few demos and felt just as pleased with their work. Feeding this down the throats of the fans they’ve built through Wolfie and Mathlete (Ziemba’s other band) is completely unfair, as it’s doubtful a project like this will bring any sort of pleasure to someone who didn’t play on it. A single-song plea of love between a couple can be cool. But hearing 16 songs of said subject matter is like reading someone else’s diary—an intriguing idea, but it leaves one feeling incredibly guilty after following through with it and learning too much about that someone else.

So, best of luck to Ziemba and Lyons’ relationship—the two are obviously made for each other. But hopefully they won’t make a record about the matter again (at least not one without varying frames of mind), because It’s Good to Be Alive just isn’t a very good listen at all.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/busytoby-its/