Review : Never Shout Never - What Is Love
AltpressUpon hearing the title track from Never Shout Never's What Is Love?, a random twentysomething dude on Twitter posted, "Dare I say, [it's] really good! I'm gonna go turn in my man card now." Sure, NSN--aka 18-year-old Christofer Drew--is building a career by accentuating so much positivity, it would make Bryce Avary down a couple bottles of cheap vodka and start taking swipes at fans with a car antenna he snapped off of a station wagon parked outside the venue at one of his gigs. Haters can hurl epithets toward Drew and NSN as much as they want, but the singer's sincerity simply cannot be denied. Critics lke to dismiss the contemporary emo/pop-punk scenes as one over-developed angst sponge, the clubhouse for young kids with guitars to whine, despite not having lived life yet. But nobody ever calls out the manufactured sunny dispositions of assembly-line pop inventions, choosing instead to dismiss any discussion with the standard line, "It is what it is." Hell, the Jonas Brothers are probably so fecking miserable, the catering staff in each city they play in might have to sign a non-disclosure contract in case they go backstage to drop off some hummus and walk in on the brothers complaining much their lives, ahem, "suck."
In the context of What Is Love?, Drew sounds like a dude who's living his life, making references to smokin' and tokin', as well as chattin' up girls. (Promise ring holders can suck it.) On "Jane Doe" (not the Converge song), he wrings every drop of blood out of the heart on his sleeve, as an accordion arrangement gives his mea culpa an unexpected flavor. The lack of a Telecaster plugged into a wall of Marshall stacks is the only thing that stops the jaunty "I Love You 5" from sounding like an obscure T. Rex B-side. Likewise, "California" liberally quotes melodic lines from Little Peggy March's 1963 hit, "I Will Follow Him," a bit unusual compared to the "copies of copies of copies" culture that AFI's Davey Havok was bemoaning in AP last year. If Michael Cera and Ellen Page covered "Can't Stand It" over the closing credits to Juno, Drew would have an indie-pop monument erected in his honor by the blogosphere, while Kimya Dawson would be hanging around outside Taco Bell dumpsters looking for a cup of burrito grease. On the title cut, Drew sounds like he's got Say Anything's Max Bemis on speed-dial, as he laments those who put devotion, care and tenderness on the back burner in lieu of material concerns. But it's the closing track, "The Past," where Drew puts it on the table, with an autobiographical reflection on growing up that's equal parts melancholy and bittersweet, as the tune flows from him and his guitar into a final huge production arrangement. It's an end that's both curious (dude, why the buzzkill) and fitting....full text
AbsolutepunkAbsolutePunk users have given many reasons to despise Never Shout Never - his annoying fans, his hair, the ukulele, his quick rise to the majors, or because he spells it “Christofer.” And I’ll admit, I have never liked Christofer Drew’s (a.k.a Never Shout Never) music, mostly because it was cheesy, clichéd, and way too sugary. Then I gave his major label debut “album” (this is a stretch – eight tracks totaling 20 minutes makes it more of an EP, if anything), What Is Love?, a chance and, to my surprise, it’s not that bad. In fact, it may be my guilty pleasure of 2010.
So what changed? Well, Drew enlisted an excellent producer, Butch Walker, to helm the boards. He continued to smoke weed, tried LSD, and decided to become tough and drop a few f-bombs throughout What Is Love?. The biggest draw is the improved musicianship. Basically, What Is Love? is Drew trying to reinvent his music and image. His songs sound more fleshed out and layered, channeling scene darlings like The Format and Hellogoodbye on more than one occasion. “I Love You 5” is a page right out of Dog Problems. From the tempo to the use of strings and horns, it is the most infectious song on the album. Even the way the track builds up is reminiscent of The Format.
“Love Is Our Weapon” will instantly get your foot tapping, while the folksy “Jane Doe” could be mistaken for a Jason Mraz song. “California” might be the best track on What Is Love?. The la-la-la’s will keep the track in your head, while the composition gives it substance. The title track is fairly aggressive for Never Shout Never, while the longest track, “The Past,” is saved for last. Drew once again brings in the strings to make the song a bit more dramatic, and they are very well done....full text
RollingstoneMissouri kid Christofer Drew, 19, is a bona fide teen-pop phenomenon: His first album, What Is Love?, is light acoustic pop on which he shows melodic skills. But Drew took some bad lessons from emo and his dad's folk records: The vocals are often pained and piercing, and his manner can be gratingly precious — especially on "Can't Stand It," where he adopts an elfin voice to tell his puppy love, "Everything you do is superfucking cute." He should hold off on the cute — particularly his own....full text
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