The overwhelming majority of the music in my library came to me via other media (movies, TV shows, fan-made videos) or recommendations from friends & acquaintances. Occasionally I dabble in letting online services suggest things, and nearly always I’m disappointed.

And then there’s this oddball thing.

What is it?

You and Me Against the World is the 14-tracks-long 2006 studio album from the band often referred to as “APOP” because Apoptygma Berserk is just shy of being a champion-level tongue twister.

How does it sound?

Is the sampler mix to blame?

Why this pick?

This album is pitched directly into my strike zone, if you’ll forgive the sportsball analogy. It’s basically a pop-rock record with a lot of Euro-styled electronica underpinnings. It features a lot of great hooks and some clever turns of phrase. None of the songs are long enough to wear out their welcome. The overall sound is just a bit off-kilter from the norm, but not to the point of becoming too weird to enjoy. And, there are no really bad songs here. Not all of them are great but none are too grating, as it were.

Which songs are the highlights?

The first full song on the album is “In This Together,” which functions as the title track. It’s a great anthemic piece that I never tire of.

One song was so nice they mixed it twice. The first is called “Love To Blame,” while the other shows up at the end of the album as a more techno-ish variant called “Is Electronic Love To Blame?” and I prefer the latter by a tiny margin but each is marvelous in its own right.

“Cambodia” is a really weird little barn-burner of a ballad, and I can’t figure out what kind of story it’s really trying to tell. Mind you, I’m terrible at parsing lyrical meaning so that may be a failing on my part rather than the songwriter’s. I enjoy the song anyway. Speaking of barn-burners, “Maze” is a great three-and-a-half-minutes of high-intensity rock-n-roll.

Which songs don’t work so well?

This is another album with one of those minute-long lead-in teaser tracks, named “Tuning In Again” in this case, which can be skipped or ignored as you see fit.

“Faceless Fear” doesn’t entirely come together quite right, and “Tuning To The Frequency Of Your Soul” needed either more added to it or some of what’s in it taken away, I’m not sure which.

Which album did you almost pick in favor of this one?

The band is (in)famous for not making quite the same style of record from album to album. After YaMAtW came Rocket Science, which I like a few songs from but the rest don’t work for me hardly at all, so if I’d not chosen this album it would’ve been something from another artist entirely.

Any final thoughts?

Apparently the only lasting value I received from Last.FM was pointing me in the direction of this band.

No, seriously. Nearly everything in my library came to me via direct recommendation from friends, or because of a song used in some other medium (fan-made video, movie soundtrack, etc) caught my attention and I did some research. I spent a few years feeding everything I listened to into Last.FM in order to train its suggestion algorithm.

Nearly everything suggested to me by Last.FM fell into one of three categories:

  1. Stuff already in my library. (Great algorithm there, guys.)
  2. Stuff that’s super-popular but entirely unrelated. (People who listen to stuff I like also listen to big-name stuff I don’t like? Big wow.)
  3. Examplars of a given genre. (As I listen to rock music, it follows that I should listen to, say, The Eagles. NO.)

Fail, fail, fail. And yet… at one point the site suggested I listen to this specific album. There you go, guys. It was all worth it! Really!