Will Big Data’s New Album Make You Melt?

It’s hard to know how to take Big Data. On the one hand it is so cold, cynical, and sarcastic that it almost freezer burns your brain. On the other, the beats are shit hot, and they make you want to jump up on the kitchen counter, kick the toaster across the room, and do the Armageddon.

So, you see the enigma that is Big Data…

The band is Alan Wilkis, and a bunch of collaborators with names like Joywave, Dragonette, Bear Hands, and Rivers Cuomo… Wait, what? All in good time, dear reader.

Album 2.0 is a headphones album. I reviewed this album via headphones, and I recommend that you listen to it as such. My friend, and fellow Newswhistler, Gator McKlusky, recommended that I listen to the album with a good pair of headphones, and Gator is wise, friends.

There is a lot going on here. Album 2.0 is full of beats and politics for the internet age. It sounds like 90s industrial mixed with the poppiest 80s fluff; lyrics dripping with sarcasm, duplicity, and irony.

Big Data kicks it off with “The Business of Emotion”. It sounds, think about it and let it sink in, Janet Jackson fronting Consolidated.

Big Data play both sides of the tech game all over Album 2.0. It is a work based on and in the internet, utilizing it to its fullest, but “The Business of Emotion” takes your internet persona(s) to task. It sort of takes the internet to task, really; a common theme on Album 2.0.

“There’s no consequence, gonna rob you blind, feed my experiments, gonna bleed you dry”

Next up is the quickly becoming immortal, “Dangerous”. If you aren’t strutting around like a rooster stuck in the Lawnmower Man by 10 seconds in, you are clearly made of stone. Seriously, it is primal; as is the video.

This video… Just watch it. There is so much to love and hate here, and obviously that is the point. “You understand, they got a plan for us”. Nothing is quite what it seems here on Album 2.0.

“Clean” is another banger that plays sarcasm ball with the listener. Honestly, though, there isn’t a straightforward emotion on the whole album. When vocalist Jamie Lidell bellows, “I’m clean. I’ve washed it all away”, I think at this point we all know what is going on here.

By the time we get to “Snowed In” featuring Weezer front man-child, Rivers Cuomo, on vox. “Snowed In” is inspired by NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, and it is a cautionary tale largely from the perspective of those who seek to persecute Mr. Snowden.

“Please understand my motivation. This is for your protection. You can say anything you want to, I won’t ever hold it against you until you need a correction”.

“So he better run, cuz I’m gonna teach him a lesson”.

“Big Dater” asks if an internet connection is “real”. People, if you need someone to answer that at this point in Album 2.0, perhaps there is something else you should be listening to; something else you might enjoy?

“Big Dater” is notable for containing the single best [non]musical breakdown ever: the sound of your modem from 1998 connecting. As awesome as that is, it too is snarky because it is such an outdated sound; yet iconic.


Big Data slow things down a bit here and there with tracks like “The Glow” and “Automatic”, but no one should think that a single genuine feeling is being conveyed in either song. Album 2.0 is single-minded in its duplicitous lyrical approach, and the listener is either going to like it or not.

“Get Some Freedom” kicks off the final three tracks, and it is striking in its lyrical similarity to Bad Religion’s 1996’s Come Join Us. Is it the best track on Album 2.0? Maybe. It’s a brutally hard thwack bang song fronted by Dragonette, and I have listened to it over and over now.

The album ends with much the same Devo + Gary Numan + Atari Teenage Riot = Big Data formula you have become accustomed to throughout. Proceed to processing. Here is your bar code. Now, rage against conformity.

Big Data is coming off a wildly successful run at SXSW, and is currently on tour. Album 2.0 is available March 24th on their website, iTunes, Amazon.


Images Courtesy of Big Data and Warner Bros. Records


NewsWhistle music contributor Chad Werner is “ahead of the curve, behind the times.” You can contact this rock n’ roll sphinx at chad@newswhistle.com.