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Album Review: ‘Leo Rising’

The concept album remains an art form. It is tough to create a body of 10 to 14 unrelated songs to go on an album. When artists actually put effort into creating a set of songs that connect, the result can either succeed or fail. In Karmin’s case, with their new album Leo Rising, released on September 9th, they were successful.

I’m shocked that this is the first time I’ve ever heard of a concept album focusing on the zodiac.

The first good thing they did well with this album was putting it in order of the zodiac, instead of in order of the calendar year.

Let’s go track by track.

“Dance With You” – Aries

Aries are characterized as being naturally brave, confident, determined realists. This song, which has the hook, “I don’t know when, I don’t know why, but tonight I’m gonna dance with you,” encompasses all of this. Ruled by Mars, which many will associate with the god of war in Roman Mythology, Aries have the fire to know and get what they want (or as Karmin sings, “I know what I want, what I want is you”). An Aries’ drive comes through in this song and makes it a great album opener.

“Sugar” – Taurus:

While this song describes how romantic and caring a Taurus is, I have a feeling that it works as a love song between the two members of Karmin, Nick Noonan and Amy Heiderman, who are married to each other and are both Taurus! As a song, “Sugar” is great to sing along to and is one of the few tracks on the album to feature Amy’s signature rapping. 

“Didn’t Know You” – Gemini:

One quick Google search and the Internet will tell you that, “Expressive and quick-witted, Gemini represents two different sides of personality and you will never be sure with whom you will face.” 

The song’s lyrics include:

“Everyone’s got faces no one sees/Oh, they better watch out/Every word you say is made to please/Well, I guess I didn’t know you at all”

I don’t have better proof for why this song works. 

On a musical level, it’s a fun track with an amazing beat. Karmin always puts layers upon layers of vocals in their songs so it feels like you’re surrounded by music and sound. As a complete song, “Didn’t Know You” is excellent. 

“No Suitcase” – Cancer:

Every Cancer who came to mind when I first listened to this song shared the same characteristics. They are loving, sensitive and emotional, but all have the desire to break out of the tiny world they are in and pursue something that is bigger than they are, or can offer more.

This is exactly what “No Suitcase” is about. Karmin sings about a person who is leaving, and isn’t taking a suitcase because it will only hold them down. The line “there’s just nothing left for me here,” applies to Cancers’ “the journey is more important than the destination” mentality. They are always looking for something better to go to, or rather something they can later leave behind.

“Come With Me (Pure Imagination)” – Leo:

I was very excited to listen to the Leo track on this album. Karmin had pretty big shoes to fill with this song, considering the title of the album. I think it was a smart choice. Sure, the song features some typical Leo traits such as confidence, dominance and arrogance, but it mixes that with a cover of “Pure Imagination.” Centering the track on a song everyone knows took the pressure off having to make a title song that held up against the zodiac sign.  

“Everything” – Virgo:

I always see Virgo as being practical and analytical, laying everything out in front of them before taking care of business. “Everything” takes the practical part of a Virgo, the part that might want to micromanage or overanalyze someone they love, and couples it with the blind desire for love. The subject of the song seems to want to love someone unconditionally, but still has to categorize it. It’s a beautiful love song. 

“Along the Road” – Libra:

While I was listening to this album in order to review it, I was mostly looking at how the perspective told in the song fit the perspective of each zodiac sign.

When I heard this song, I realized that it’s just as important to think about the people these songs make you think of. I’ve always had a hard time getting along with Libras, but one of my best friends in high school, someone I love more than anything, was a Libra. This song made me think of my relationship with her. It may not apply to her personality, but it perfectly described how she made me feel. 

If there’s one thing Karmin did well with this album, it was the fact that they had the ability to make songs that people could either relate to, or relate other people to.  

“Along the Road” is the best song on the album. 

“Can’t Live” – Scorpio:

This Scorpio track is one I’m still trying to wrap my head around. When I hear it, I hear the possessiveness, stubbornness, distrust and passion of a Scorpio talking to someone they love. I still cannot figure out who is singing about whom. There are some songs that stand out more than others on the album, and unfortunately the Scorpios got a bit of a pass. 

“Blame It On My Heart” – Sagittarius:

When I think of this sign, the word “heart” immediately comes to mind. I feel like Sagittarius is a great sign that a lot of people just don’t take into consideration. I’m not entirely a fan of the line, “I couldn’t help it, sorry I’m selfish,” because I would never consider a Sagittarius selfish unless I knew that they personally were. But I would blame a lot of what they do, whether good or bad, on their heart. This is a karaoke song I can get behind!

“Save Me Now” – Capricorn:

Most people who know about this sign know that there are two Capricorns, two completely different personalities in this sign. 

This track is excellent because it is sung both by and about a Capricorn. Let me clear this up for you: The song is sung by one person about another. Let’s call them Person A and Person B. Person A is singing lines like, “Please save me now, I’m never gonna leave this town. I’ll hang around till all the buildings crumble down. Stacking all these dreams inside, I watch another train go by.” 

However, Person A is also singing:

He was a good guy, bad lie, king of con artists… He was my broken Caddy daddy, stranger danger savvy/Killed my innocent first love when it ended badly… He called me drunk one night from his bachelor party/Said, “I get married tomorrow. How are you doing?” Said, “I’m packing my baggage because my dreams are pursuing” He said, “I’m glad that you’re happy. I’m starting a family/But maybe someday we could hook up in Miami”

about Person B. So Person A is the Capricorn with big dreams who just cannot follow through on them, while Person B is the confident, cocky Capricorn that you either aspire to be or want to avoid. He’s the one who has made life the way he wants it to be, even if it’s not the best life. 

“Easy Money” – Aquarius:

If you said, “Aquarius,” the first image to pop into my head would be a full-bodied person just floating in the sky, slightly above everyone else. Don’t ask why, but I have always associated Aquarius as being slightly out of everyone else’s reach. It may be because they are characterized as aloof, unemotional and independent. In any case, this amazing track expresses an Aquarius’ desire for an easy way out so they can stop wasting time and get on to the important things. 

“I Got You” – Pisces:

As a Pisces, this song was incredibly special to me. Like “Save Me Now” (Capricorn), this song is sung both by and about a Pisces. Person A is singing about how they would lay down their life to support Person B. Person B is somebody who left all they knew to pursue a big dream and become successful.

Pisces are intuitive, sensitive, trusting and put everyone else’s needs above their own. In the song, Person A misses Person B but will always support them even if they left, as shown with the lyrics, “There’s nothing I won’t do, I got you babe.” This isn’t an exaggeration with Pisces. There is absolutely nothing we won’t do.

And trust me, if there is one person who will follow a dream to the top of a mountain, it’s a Pisces. 

When you actually sit down, study the zodiac, then listen to the subtlety of the songs on Leo Rising, you will want to personally commend Karmin on the work they put into this album. 

They didn’t simply write songs and put zodiac labels on them. They studied each and every sign, stepped into those shoes and wrote what each sign would write. 

5 out of 5 stars. 

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