The Acid House Kings – Music Sounds Better With You Enhanced iPad Edition offers fans the most integrative listening experience since the invention of the double gatefold LP. The app serves as a happy reminder that artists still record albums, not just individual MP3. It thoroughly immerses listeners in multiple facets of the album’s music, images, and lyrics.
Swedish indie popsters Acid House Kings kept a low profile of during the latter half of the ’00s. They hadn’t released a full-length since 2005’s Sing Along With the Acid House Kings, but their choice to augment the physical CD and digital release of Music Sounds Better With You (Labrador Records, March 2011) was prescient.
The Acid House Kings’ app offers an extensive menu that includes a band bio, a news feed comprising the band’s Twitter feed and Facebook pages, videos, karaoke, and an interactive image gallery.
Playing the record is, however, the app’s raison d’etre. As each song plays, an image from a band member fills the screen, along with the song’s lyrics. The song can be skipped with a swipe gesture or otherwise adjusted using the integrated control panel. Simply prop up the iPad and let Music Sounds Better With You charm and entertain.
In addition to the ten original album tracks the app also includes six bonus remixes of “Would You Say Stop” as well as a Labrador Records sampler. The sampler offers listeners who are new to the Labrador sound a chance to sample work by the Radio Dept., and the Mary Onettes.
The Acid House Kings aren’t shy about their allegiance to the Smiths. Listening to Music Sounds Better With You brought me back to my teen years, listening to the Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs. I “lay in awe on the bedroom floor” just as Morrissey sings on “Rubber Ring,” completely absorbed in what the band had created.
This app is the first I have seen that promises to offer fans a window into the band when it reaches the listener. The all but extinct art of creating liner notes could even return if more artists choose to adopt the app as a mode of album distribution.
The app’s only flaw is that it did not clearly state that purchasing the app also includes one also includes a copy the album which can be accessed through the user’s iTunes library. Given the tenuous state of the music industry, even the most devote fans are unlikely to buy a record twice, and some may eschew this app because they believe the music can’t be loaded on to another device.
Unlike other recent additions to the App store such as Bjork’s Biophilia, where songs packaged as individual apps within a larger “mother” app, or the The Polyphonic Spree’s recent release of a single as app that included a game, the Acid House King’s sole focus is connecting fans to their music. There are additional bells and whistles such as karaoke and a video, but they serve only to extend the listener’s experience with the record and the band.
This app is exciting not only because of the quality of its design and included music, but because albums as apps promise to give fans back the additional heft that the listening to music lots as vinyl ceded to cassettes and CDs, and ultimately to digital files. While digital music files offer tremendous convenience for the listener, they rob fans of easy access to lyrics, large scale artwork, and the sense that the band has created a tangible work.
Album apps also have potential to reinvigorate the music business, as another method for bands to reach fans. Rarities or live concert clips could be added to entice buyers, much in the way limited release 7″s are used to encourage fans to purchase a record in advance from an independent label rather than downloading it illegally.
The Acid House Kings’ app is available to download in the App store for the introductory price of $5.99.
What I liked: Cheers to developer Lackner//Buckingham for bringing back the album as a discrete listening experience. The app takes a wonderful idea and executes it seamlessly.
What I didn’t like: It should have been clearer that the digital version of the record was included with the app.
To buy or not to buy: Music Sounds Better With You is a must own for fans of indie-pop.
- App Name: Acid House Kings – Music Sounds Better With You Enhanced iPad Edition
- Version Reviewed: 1.0
- Category: Music
- Developer: Lackner Buckingham, Labrador Records
- Price: Introductory $5.99, final $9.99