Pop-punk band Cobra Starship released their highly anticipated follow-up to 2009’s hit album Hot Mess this past week, Night Shades. The fourth album for this New York-based band, Night Shades continued the shift away from the pop-punk seen in their earlier albums towards the electro dance-pop tunes first seen in Hot Mess. While fans of old-school Cobra Starship may be slightly put off by this change, ultimately Cobra Starship delivers a solid album, proving that they are no one-hit wonder.
Lead singer Gabe Saporta founded Cobra Starship in 2005, releasing their first single “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)” before the band had even been fully formed through the help of various artists from the Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen family. This song was featured on the comedy-horror film Snakes on a Plane soundtrack and became a huge underground hit overnight.
Their debut While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets and its follow-up Viva La Cobra did moderately well, helping to build Cobra Starship a solid fan base that would land them a permanent spot on the popular Warped Tour for several years. However, it wasn’t until Hot Mess that Cobra Starship achieved real commercial success with their hit single “Good Girls Go Bad” featuring Leighton Meester from Gossip Girls.
Always a sassy throwback band, with Night Shades Cobra Starship seemed to embrace the 80’s feel, especially on synth-pop song “Anything for Love” and the upbeat keyboard-fueled “Schwick.” These songs legitimately sounded like they could have been big hits in the 80’s, although maybe not so much now. Their up-tempo ballad “You Belong to Me” also had a very retro feel, although it wasn’t their strongest song of the album, despite being the opening track.
Of course, Cobra Starship already has one huge hit on their hands, the dance club anthem “You Make Me Feel…” featuring Sabi. This song has all the best-loved qualities of “Good Girls Go Bad,” from the strong female vocals to the fun sexy lyrics to the catchy hook guaranteed to engrain itself in your head. Pure perfection, “You Make Me Feel…” has already been tearing up the charts, peaking at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 so far.
While Cobra Starship definitely delivered with “You Make Me Feel,” it’s unfortunate that they didn’t try to include more dance anthems on Night Shades. Given the breakout success of Hot Mess’s “Good Girls Go Bad,” you would think that they would try and feature as many electro-pop dance jams as possible, seeing as how that is obviously their strength. Unfortunately, Night Shades falls short in this respect.
They only have a couple of other songs on this album that could potentially match the club anthem success of “You Make Me Feel…”; “#1Nite (One Night)” is once such song. Co-written with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic fame, “#1Nite (One Night)” is a catchy song with a fun hook and upbeat tempo that is sure to fit in nicely at any party. “Middle Finger” featuring rapper Mac Miller is another potential radio hit, although this is more of a slow jam with a catchy chorus.
“Fool Like Me” is a fun ‘50s throwback song that features doo-wop backing vocals and hilarious lyrics. Another strong point of this album is “Disaster Boy,” a pop-punk song very reminiscent of early Cobra Starship. Featuring keytarist Victoria Asher on lead vocals for the first time, it provides a great opportunity for her to shine, and her unique voice really adds a lot of character to the song.
Although working with Kara Dioguardi was ratings gold for Hot Mess, unfortunately the magic didn’t translate this time around. She co-wrote “F***ed in Love” for this album, and unlike “Good Girls Go Bad” this song is completely forgettable and pure filler. Another forgettable song is “Don’t Blame the World, It’s the DJ’s Fault,” which starts strongly but unfortunately reverts to repeating the song title over and over for its weak chorus.
While it’s great that Cobra Starship had the artistic liberty to really embrace these different genres with this album, it didn’t really lend itself to a cohesive album overall, and it would have been better to just pick one style—preferably the one that has gotten them the most success so far. However, despite the randomness of this album, they really deliver the fun party songs that we have come to expect from Cobra Starship, and there’s no doubt that they have many more hits left in them yet.