Positive: 1 out of 1
Mixed: 0 out of 1
Negative: 0 out of 1
Jun 4, 2013Like the case was with a lot of bands in 2011-12, I found out about this LA 5-piece through Sirius XM’s Alt Nation channel. The song they played was the lead single from this album (and easily their biggest song to date) “We Come Running”. In short, between the unrelenting earworm hooks, optimistic & uplifting lyrics, and rousing group vocals, it’s a near-perfect pop gem of a track. In fact that last sentence is a good way to describe pretty much the rest of their debut album Wake Up. This is basically how pop music should be. It’s fun, happy & catchy yet sincere enough that it never sounds like they’re just phoning it in or sacrificing personality for the sake of a pop hit. Mainly because it approaches these emotions with a sense of poetry, elaboration & the aforementioned sincerity that you just can’t fake. It seems like lately more & more “indie” artists like fun, Gotye, Imagine Dragons, etc are getting big in the mainstream, and I really hope this is the next one to do so.
There seems to be an unspoken common theme running through this album along the lines of the joys of youth & staying positive through times of questionable success & conditions, which would make sense given what I’ve heard from interviews about the band’s early history. The aforementioned group vocals contribute to this as well, using great male/female harmonies between all the band members as well as even bringing in the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir on “We Come Running” and second single “Stars (Hold On)”. Admittedly it’s tough to point out specific songs in this review, because for the most part all the tracks share similar positive traits. Still this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since each song is individually so engaging on its own that’s it’s easy to forgive that the album doesn’t exactly go in a million different directions. It’s consistent but never boring, happy but never corny, and positive but never to the point of being downright delusional. I know the term “summer album” might turn some people off, and understandably so, but there’s few phrases that can describe Wake Up better than that.
Any negative things I might have to say about this album are very very minor. For example on tracks like “Stars (Hold On)” or “Glacier” the songs, despite great verses & choruses, have rather clumsy transitions between them, if any at all; “Stars” has seemingly off-beat drumming during part of the chorus while “Glacier” feels like someone’s going back & forth between 2 tracks with the radio knob every 30 seconds. And even though this isn’t necessarily a complaint about the album itself, I’d like to see a bit of experimentation from Youngblood Hawke on the next one, since as great as Wake Up is, it’s very similar throughout & another album of the same thing would most likely make the band a bit boring. Maybe they could incorporate some more stripped down arrangements or diversify their subject matter a bit. Maybe even their female background singer could sing lead on a few tracks. Still overall I was very impressed by this debut album, and this is definitely a band to look out for in the future. I’m actually gonna be seeing them live on June 8th with Matt & Kim and Capital Cities, and I imagine the songs here would translate fantastically in a live setting.
Top 5 tracks: We Come Running, Last Time, Rootless, Forever, In Our Blood (iTunes bonus track)
Score: 88/100… Full Review »