Yep, mastered too loud. It's a real shame coz it would sound so much better with greater dynamic range. For those that are interested, google "Loudness Wars".It's very possible that it was mastered poorly. Unfortunately, this is the case of many, many albums these days (just ask any audiophile out there).
There's a bit of loudness war in VLV but not too much. It has been mastered loud, but not too loud. Some things got levelled so that they're at a constant volume (thus causing some dynamics to be lost, yes), but at least they're not increasing the volume so much that the cd would be made unlistenable. That stuff happens on Red Hot Chili Peppers cd's. I've compared LIT with a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, that's where the loudness is terrible. Observe the following screen shots:
First we've got Life in Technicolor and then Californication (RHCP):
Once your waves (the blue stuff) start to go out of the box, then you get clipping. Clipping results in your song having actual pops and cracks in them, because you're basically distorting the sound by mixing it too loud. Then lots of frequencies (and thus dynamics) get permanently lost in the mix. Note that this does not happen with LIT, thus way less dynamics were lost and it could even be fixed (with a little EQ), maybe a project I should work on during my vacation! It however definitely does with Californication, that stuff cannot be fixed.
It could have been worse, in conclusion.
Ah, I understand. I like the tones, at least they aren't as cheesy as those in X&Y. (and that's Radiohead in that signature, they're song "Bulletproof... I Wish I Was")^^^ If that's Chris Clark in your sig then that's great! He's good.
Back to LIT......
The reason people have mentioned the "Mp3ised" sound is because of the tones in the instrument (the Shamisen). It has those wishy-washy over tones but it's not low quality audio.