Everyone knows that I have been a huge Bill Beckett (lead singer / ex-Remember Maine) fan for years. We also all know that I am a sucker for clever lyrics, fast-paced beats, and catchy choruses, right? So, is it that hard to assume that I am going to be in love with the amalgam of the two? You are going to get exactly that — pure-unadulterated-love.
I will start out my forthcoming review by saying: if you are only judging this band by their first EP, throw out your preconceptions and don’t assume you know a fucking thing about this band. The album is an intelligent mix of pop, folk, and rock – all mixed together with the soothing vocals and lyrical styling of one of the most talented front-men in the scene. The hype has been bleeding from this band since the moment they were conceived (yah, I know I didn’t help much with that one), and I was always afraid that when the band finally released an album they would never be able to live up to the expectations of others (and of those I put upon them). After pushing play for the first time on this disc, I knew that I had underestimated the band from the get go – they were not only deserving of all the hype – they proceeded to construct an album that is a huge middle finger to all the critics. They took the stereotypes that their first EP had brought from critics, turned them on their head, and created an album full of uniqueness and originality that can only be seen as a testament to commitment.
“Attention, attention ..” the album begins, and within seconds, William’s voice fills your speakers: smooth, in tune, and by the time the chorus hits with more hooks than your local bait shop I was already smiling knowing that the album was going to be an instantaneous hit. In addition, it does the album justice to know that the songs get progressively better throughout the disc. The second track, “Seasons” has an interesting beat that deserves to be played loud and in front of a crowd – the chorus incorporates an acoustic strum, with creative drumming to produce a sound that could easily have been a pop-hit from the 60s.
When the band first came storming onto the music industry only a year or so ago, critics were quick to jump all over the band and claim they were a combination of all the trends and just trying to cash in on the music. As this album moves from song to song you realize that each track stands alone as a unique spin, and none of the songs (honestly) remind me of any other bands out there right now. Yes, I do see hints of other Chicago bands, and yes there are hints of the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas; but all in all, the album is boldly brilliant in its formation.
Black Mamba (Track 5), is the band’s take on the critics quick attack of their first EP (and the responses they may have to this album) as they sing, “love me or leave me or rip me apart, this was the voice that I was given and if you don’t like it take a long walk off of the shortest pier – o mister magazine, never wrote one single word for you, or your so called music scene.” Brutally honest and one of the best examples of how a band can create an album for themselves, for their fans, and not particularly give a shit if the “scene police” like it or not.
Well, this reviewer is usually mocked for his taste in music (and knows how brutal the “underground zine writers” can be) – and I could give a shit if it is not cool to like certain bands. I like what I like; and to be honest, there are others out there that share the same tastes.
Track 6 is my favorite. The chorus literally is stuck in my head for hours and I find myself humming the tune even after the album is off. I’m a sucker for the fast pace, the lyrics being spit out almost faster than I can talk, and it’s just a really cool song (no other way to put it).
In conclusion, this is one of the most solid debuts ever released. An instant classic? Maybe. But for sure one of the best albums I have so far heard this year (only 10 songs though? Come on … we need more!), and I think that the combination of musical styles, crafty lyrics, and in your face choruses, will make this disc a huge fan favorite and they may very well be one of the breakout artists of 2005. Remember when Northstar came burning onto everyone’s ears last year and shocked the hell outta some people? I could see it happening again. If you like what I like, you’ll love this.