Cobra Starship – Viva La Cobra
Record Label: Decaydance / Fueled By Ramen
Release Date: October 23rd, 2007
Gaba Saporta used to be awesome once. I say once before he’s not so awesome anymore. He was known as the frontman, bassist and lyricist of pop-punk band Midtown but now he’s more so known as the frontman of pop-rock/synth-rock band Cobra Starship. I was into this band back in 2008 or so, which was really at the height of their popularity. They’re still quite popular today, but they’ve gotten rid of any “rock” or “punk” influence. First record While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets featured Saporta mainly, while sophomore record Viva La Cobra features a full band, actually; Saporta spent the next couple of years after While the City Sleeps and found it in bassist Alex Suarez, guitarist Ryland Blackinton, keytarist Victoria Asher, and drummer Nate Navarro. The end result of them all writing was Viva La Cobra, and the best words to describe this record are most likely “strange, “fun,” and “infectious.” It’s strange because there are plenty of moments that just make me scratch my head in wonder, but at the same time, there’s also a lot of moments that are pretty awesome. It’s infectious, because a lot of these songs are quite catchy, and could get in your head for days on end. For the most part, though, these songs are quite fun, meaning that there’s not a lot of substance to them. This is a good record to dance to, but there are a few songs that do have meaning and do provide some thought. That’s not to say every song is fun and infectious, but the overall tone of this album is light-hearted and silly. With that being said, let’s throw our fangs up, and get into this record.
The record begins with “The City Is at War” and this song really demonstrates what the record is about; it has a very synth-rock sound and it’s just really fun. The lyrics are rather interesting, but nothing too thought provoking, though. Saporta’s vocals are nice, too. This song describes the album, in a sense, because it’s not awful, but it’s not amazing, either. This a nice opening track, though; it’s not the worst song on the record, and it is quite infectious and catchy. Moving on, though, second track “Guilty Pleasure” is one of my favorite tracks on the record because this is meant to be a “party song,” and the lyrics are playful and fun. It also features vocals from Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy and he also produced the record. If there’s one thing I really love about this record, it’s the production. He does a great job with it. Going back to the album, “Guilty Pleasure” does have a bit of a rock sound, too, though. There’s a prominent guitar riff by guitarist Ryland Blackinton, but does contain that pop/dance element as well, which is pretty cool. Third track “One Day, Robots Will Cry” is a track that’s one of the few “serious” songs on here, meaning the lyrics actually have a meaning to them. There are a couple more songs that have that serious vibe to them, and they are wonderful songs, because those are the songs that really do hit. The only problem with these songs I have is that a “fun” song appears right after every “serious” one, so any meaning they were going for kind of is forgotten. For instance, after “One Day, Robots Will Cry,” fourth track “Kiss My Sass” appears, and this is one of my favorite tracks on the record, actually, despite it being very silly and fun. It has a very cool beat and Saporta’s vocals are very smooth. It also features Gym Class Heroes frontman Travis “Travie McCoy” and his verse is okay, but lyrically, it’s kind of awful. Next track “Damn You Look Good And I’m Drunk (Scandalous)” is one of those tracks that just make me scratch my head. It’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard. This song is really fun, too, but in the middle, there’s a rap verse from gay hip-hop trio VIP that’s just absolutely weird. I won’t ruin it for those have not listened to the song, but it’s interesting, to say the least. It’s not that good, and makes me wonder why the heck they put on that record, but whatever, though.
Happily, though, the next track “The World Has Its Shine (But I Would Drop It On a Dime)” is one of my favorites, if not my favorite on the record. This is a cute song in the sense that it’s about dropping everything for someone you care about. You could have everything you’ve ever wanted, but you’d drop it all for someone to make them happy. It’s pretty sweet and I like it. It’s a heartfelt and sincere song. Seventh track “Smile for the Paparazzi” is an interesting song, because it has a very “Spanish” feel to it; the guitar tones definitely have a Spanish flare and it works to some degree. It just feels rather boring, to be honest. It’s not a great track but not awful, either. After the forgettable “Angie,” ninth track “Prostitution Is the World’s Oldest Profession (And I, Dear Madame Am a Professional)” is a very short track, but one of my favorites. This song is so interesting because it has “serious” lyrics in it, but it’s literally about prostitution, and it’s another one of those tracks that just makes me scratch my head. Tenth track “My Moves Are White (White Hot, That Is)” is another one of my favorite songs, because this is another very fun song. It’s very catchy, but just absolutely wonderful. Last track, though, “Pleasure Ryland” (which is named for guitarist Ryland Blackinton) is a really short R&B/pop inspired track and it’s only two minutes but really works. It’s fun, but it’s to the point and it ends the album on a very light note.
The only problem I really have with this record is that the “serious” songs on here are muddled by every other song, because it’s hard to take those seriously, despite being wonderful, because the rest of the album is completely different. While this record is fun, it’s not the best record I’ve ever heard. I won’t lie about that at all, but for what it is, which is merely a dance-rock/synth-rock record, it’s enjoyable. The best thing about is, as I mentioned earlier, is Patrick Stump being the producer. His production skills are great, and it shows throughout. Despite that, the record is good what it is – fun pop-rock.
I agree, they are really quickly losing their punk and rock influences. The kind of quirky-punk (I don't even know what to call it) I feel is still sort of apparent on this record in the opening track and One Day, Robots Will Cry, even in Kiss My Sass, it's not total radio-pop, there's still something interesting about the sound. I actually don't like The World Has Its Shine much at all, it's a skip track for me, it slows down the whole record (which I sometimes like but for me it doesn't work here). In fact, after about track 5 it gets a bit too boring for me... Interesting review though, always like to see how others interpret things. Like you say, it's a very fun and infectious album but not a whole heap of meaning to it. In saying that, this beats their next album Hot Mess by MILES. That's a pretty awful album from a band that started out pretty good, though they redeem themselves in Night Shades, though again it's a very fun album, but HM was just horrible. At least this album is very listenable to and only has a couple of MUST skip tracks... Also nice to get a review from someone who has such a long history with the band!