This is part of a Retrospective that covers the bands entire discography. You can find the post for the previous album here. There’s also an introduction and disclaimer that you can read here, that I strongly suggest you start out with.
Much like the Blood on the Dance Floor’s previous full length release, All The Rage!!, the bands fifth album, Evolution is yet another transitional record in their discography, having them yet again move towards more serious music with a meaningful message, rather than silly, juvenile, sex songs. And unlike All The Rage!!, which still had a degree of silliness to it, the vast majority of Evolution succeeds in delivering said seriousness. With a few outliers.
Evolution is pretty notable for being the bands best-selling and highest charting album, and it did so well in fact that it actually managed to reach the number 1 spot on the Billboard Charts for Electronic music back in 2012. That’s pretty fucking incredible, even if it was a very short-lived success. Among the fanbase, Evolution is generally considered to be one of the bands best efforts and it’s when said fanbase really started to explode in size and popularity. This is the album that made Blood on the Dance Floor a pretty big deal back in the early 2010’s, and for good fucking reason too. This album kicks ass. And not only does it kick ass, it also delivers some really genuine, emotionally charged music that feels like it comes from the heart. Throughout their career, the band had always hinted they were capable of writing more serious and mature music, with the odd outlier like Fallen Star or Suicide Club, and All The Rage!! was definitely an attempt to show this side a lot more, with songs like Bewitched and Dark Dreams. But Evolution is the first time the band fully embraces this seriousness and goes all out with it, making for an album that feels… Genuine. Really, fucking genuine. And it’s because of this, that it’s one of my favourite albums. Ever.
Evolution is also notable for its above average production, being arguably one of the best mixed and best sounding albums in the bands entire discography. Seriously, this album fucking bangs. It hits hard and the sound quality is incredible. Going from All The Rage!! to this, the difference is pretty insane. On top of this, a lot of the tracks also have very notable artists featured on them, including Deuce from Hollywood Undead, Joel Madden from Good Charlotte and Amelia Arsenic from Angelspit. That’s some… Really well known talent. It’s actually kinda crazy to look back on given the bands reputation nowadays.
Finally, the album is also known for its various spoken word intermissions in between tracks, which all try to sell this idea of love and positivity being the source of all that is good in the universe. It’s a recurring theme of the album, and while I find myself skipping these on repeat listens, they do a good job selling the albums core message.
Like All The Rage!!, the albums more serious tone is made pretty clear from the very first track, Rise & Shine, which starts off with a very soft piano melody accompanied by strings and an acoustic guitar, before some sad sounding, emotional vocals from Dahvie suddenly kick in, with lyrics focusing on depression, being ostracised and wishing your tormentors would move their attention to someone else. As someone who struggles with their own feelings of self doubt on a daily basis, the lyrics “Rain rain won’t go away, cloud on my head every single day, this pain pain goes right inside, breaking me down ’til I just cry” really hit me fucking hard. And more than anything, they set the tone of the album immediately. Dahvie and Jayy have something meaningful to say with their music this time, and this time they’re going to deliver on almost every single track. This isn’t a silly album, this is an emotional, heartfelt record that wants to be something that people can latch onto, that they can look to for inspiration in the darkest of times. And Rise & Shine is the embodiment of that goal, being a song focusing on depression and the negative effects of bullying. The track is also an excellent showcase of what to expect from the albums production, increasing the tempo and energy as it goes on, before eventually exploding into a heavy blast of hardcore beats and insane energy, as Jayy screams into the microphone and Deuce from Hollywood Undead joins the track with his iconic and unique voice. It’s a fantastic opener that prepares the listener for what’s to come and showcases all of the albums strengths in a single track. And I love it.
And Evolution only gets better as it moves on to the next track, Unforgiven, which is arguably the best song on the entire album. Immediately kicking off with a heavy, electronic beat before Jayy and Dahvie’s vocals explode onto the track, Unforgiven is an extremely emotionally charged and fast-paced track that doesn’t let up for it’s entire duration, with the lyrics focusing on being betrayed by someone close to you, despite promising them the world. It’s an incredibly powerful song with some of the best vocals from both Dahvie and Jayy, and the beat fucking hits so hard. I just love how energetic and emotionally charged the song is. The verses feel like energetic rants and the chorus really hits me hard with the lyrics “don’t think I won’t forget the things you’ve done” and “now you are the one who’s unforgiven.” It’s extremely relatable and it’s just fantastic. I listen to this song almost daily. Easily among the best bands best work.
The energy only continues to ramp up with Frankenstein + the Bride, which is a conceptual song about a Frakenstein’s monster falling in love with a regular human girl. It’s cheesy as fuck, and super cliche, but the beat slaps hard and the lyrics, while pretty goofy, are really catchy, energetic and surprisingly emotional. Haley Rose also features on this track, playing the role of the Bride in the second verse and she does a fantastic job, particularly with the line “you leave me electrified, your love brings me back to life.” Like I said, it’s a cliche concept for a love song, but it sounds so good. I can’t hate this. It’s great. And the lyrics and production are fantastic in spite of that.
My impressions have been rather positive thus far, but unfortunately it’s not all great with Evolution. As I said earlier, there are some outliers as well, and they come in the form of the next two tracks: Fantasyland and Revenge Porn. I really dislike this entire section of the album because both of these songs just really put a downer on the otherwise serious tone the album is going for throughout.
Fantasyland is your average braggadocious Blood on the Dance Floor song, only unlike the likes of Money and Hoes or Keys to the Bakery, it just lacks clever wordplay or interesting production. It’s a really boring song and it feels incredibly out of place in this otherwise serious album that tackles topics like depression, loneliness and learning to love yourself. I can’t fucking stand it.
And don’t get me started on Revenge Porn. I’d probably love this song as a funny, silly sex rap if it was on an album like Epic, but here it just doesn’t feel like it belongs at all. The track is literally just about getting revenge on your ex by posting porn of them on the internet, with some of the most stupid, insufferable lyrics the band have ever put to paper. “Facebook, screencap, reaction pic, fap fap fap!” is funny as fuck, but it also doesn’t belong on an album with songs like Rise & Shine and You Are the Heart (which we’ll get to shortly). Fuck this song.
But thankfully, these two outliers are the only noticeably bad tracks on the entire album, with everything that comes after ranging from very good to being among the bands best work. Mercy and Hollywood Tragedy both deliver a much darker side to the album, which works well in their favour, with the former having extremely distorted, disturbed sounding vocals and a fantastic chorus, featuring Amelia Arsenic and the latter having an extremely dark aesthetic, with heavy guitars and lyrics focusing on the idea of selling out your true self and having regrets. Both are phenomenal tracks and are easily the darkest parts of the album, which serve as a nice contrast to the rest of the tracks.
The Last Dance is another great track, and is one Evolution’s more upbeat and positive tracks, that while brought down slightly by it’s spoken word outro, is still some really great shit. I really love the beat for this song, and the female vocals that sing alongside Dahvie and Jayy are fantastic. This song makes me really fucking happy, and sometimes that’s all a song needs to do to win me over. It’s great.
In contrast, Incomplete and All Alone is another sad song with an incredibly heavy, but sad beat accompanied by pianos and some really sad, pained vocals singing about being left all alone to suffer. The chorus also features Joel Madden from the band Good Charlotte, and while I’m not a big fan of his, he does a phenomenal job with this one, really driving the chorus home. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever heard from the guy, and I still find it really weird that he of all people features on this album. The song itself is also yet another one that resonates with me pretty closely, probably because I suffer from some terrible abandonment issues. “I destroy everything I touch, even things I love too much” just… Fucking hits me right in the feels.
But the song I want to talk about on Evolution, above all others, is You Are the Heart. Out of all of the tracks on this album, this is the one that speaks to me the most. Hell, out of the bands entire discography, this is probably the song that I can relate to more than any other they’ve ever released. While a lot of music hits me hard, there are very few songs that can move me emotionally to the point I feel overwhelmed. I can probably count the number of songs that are capable of doing this on one hand. And You Are the Heart is one of them. It’s a slow, pop punk styled song with slow guitars, sad pianos and some really emotionally charged singing. But it’s the lyrics that really get to me with this one, because the song is an anti-suicide song. It’s a song about feeling alone, about feeling like no one is listening, about wanting to give up, about feeling like you just can’t fucking take things any more. And ultimately, it’s a song that aims to tell you that you don’t have to fight those feelings alone. That you’re worth something. That even when it feels like there’s nothing to live for, that you can change the world, that you shouldn’t give up and that you can take back your life. As someone who’s struggled with really bad depression throughout a significant portion of his life and who sometimes feels overwhelmed to the point that they just feel like giving up, You Are the Heart speaks to me on a level that few songs can. It succeeds in being a song that reminds me that I’m not alone, that I can do this and that life always has a bright side to it, no matter how difficult or overwhelming things can be sometimes. With lyrics like “Wouldn’t it all be so easy? Would they ever miss me?”, “It’s all inside you can change the world, so don’t you dare give up on me tonight” and “Put down the knife and take back your life” I can think of few songs out there that really speak to me on the same level as this one does. I love it and it’s one of the most inspirational and motivating songs I’ve ever listened to. Dahvie opens the song with “this is our message to give hope back to those who are lost in despair”, and even if the allegations about you turn out to be true, I feel like I should still say that your message sure as hell got through to me. I’ll probably be crucified for saying this publicly, but thank you Dahvie and Jayy. This is easily the best track on the entire album. It’s fantastic, and I recommend it to anyone who needs a reminder that they’re not alone in this world and that they’re loved. It’s really that uplifting.
Keeping the motivational shit going, The Right To Love is another uplifting song that really tries to drive home the central theme of the album: that everyone has the right to love and be loved back. That everyone deserves to be loved by someone, no matter who they are. It’s dragged down a little by an overly lengthy, spoken word intro and outro, but once the song gets going it really delivers with an extremely boppy beat and some fantastic singing and screaming from Dahvie and Jayy. Again, this song just makes me really fucking happy.
And to cap things off, we have Loveotomy and Love Conquers All, which are two very solid tracks that do a fantastic job closing out both sides of the album. The former is a great conclusion to the record’s more dark, depressing side and the latter is a solid ending to its more upbeat, inspirational side. Lovetomy has some excellent string instrumentals and very emotionally charged lyrics about cutting yourself off from someone you once loved in an attempt to better your life and Love Conquers All is just a beautiful song with a soaring chorus and some truly amazing production. It’s the perfect closing track to the album and encapsulates its tone perfectly.
Evolution is an album that stays true to its name. The record really is an evolution of the bands sound and finally has them moving away from their silly, goofy, edgy early days and fully crossing over into the more serious, emotionally driven territory they’d been hinting at for years. Sure, there are still a couple of outliers, but I can safely ignore them, and even forgive them when there’s so much good to be found everywhere else. The album is the bands most popular for a reason: it delivers. On every front. The production is amazing, the tracks are all super catchy and deliver meaningful messages (barring two exceptions) and even Dahvie Vanity’s singing manages to go beyond being an acquired taste this time, actually being… Pretty damn good! All of this, combined with the countless features from iconic artists like Deuce and Joel Madden, make Evolution one of Blood on the Dance Floor’s best releases. I fucking love this album. I love it so much and listening to it just makes me really fucking happy to be alive. It’s an extremely inspirational collection of music that strongly relates to my own experiences with anxiety, depression and self-loathing, but it also reminds me that I’m loved and that the world really isn’t so bad if you just take a step back and try to see the positives it has to offer. I have absolutely no shame in calling this one of my favourite albums of all time, and again I question if my ears just don’t function the same as the average persons or if maybe, just maybe, this band and their music is ridiculously overhated because “Dahvie Vanity is a bad man!” or something…
Regardless, Evolution is a 10/10 to me. And no one can take what this album means to me away from me. I love it.
And now, here’s some track ratings for you all:
- Rise & Shine (featuring Deuce) – 9/10
- Unforgiven – 10/10
- The Law of Love – 8/10
- Frankenstein + the Bride (featuring Haley Rose) – 10/10
- Fantasyland – 5/10
- Revenge Porn! – 4/10
- Mercy (featuring Amelia Arsenic) – 9/10
- Hollywood Tragedy (featuring Shawn Brandon) – 10/10
- Rampage of Love – 8/10
- The Last Dance – 9/10
- Incomplete and All Alone (featuring Joel Madden) – 10/10
- Deja Vu – 7/10
- You Are the Heart – 10/10
- The Right to Love! – 10/10
- Loveotomy – 9/10
- Mother Earth – 8/10
- Love Conquers All (featuring Elena Vladi) – 9/10
- Love Is The Message – 8/10
Unforgiven, Frankenstein +the Bride, Incomplete and All Alone You Are the Heart, The Right To Love!
Fantasyland, Revenge Porn!
Would I recommend it?
Absolutely. 100 percent. Evolution is not only one of the bands most accessible albums, due to its more serious nature and its lack of juvenile, sexually explicit songs, but it’s also one of their most solid releases in general. With incredible production, relatable themes and a ton of great features from iconic artists, there’s no reason to not give this one a look. It’s that good and if you’re into early 2010’s Electropop and EDM, but want something with a more signature style to it, you’re very likely to find something to enjoy here. It’s fantastic.
What about the Deluxe Edition?
This time around, the Deluxe Edition honestly doesn’t have all that much to offer, with the only extra tracks being acoustic versions of Unforgiven and Frankenstein + the Bride. As bonus tracks they’re fine and it’s kind of cool getting to hear them in acoustic form, but they’re not really anything I’d consider an essential listen. Still, if you like these two tracks and feel like giving these alternative versions ago, then by all means, give them a listen. They’re pretty good.
So what’s next? Well, next time we’ll be diving back into EP releases and will be taking a look at a shorter EP released the day after Evolution hit the shelves: Clubbed to Death! It’s a pretty short release, consisting of only three tracks, but does it hold up in spite of that? We’ll need to wait and see!
Until next time!