Review : Plain White T's - Wonders of the Younger
AbsolutepunkPlain White T's have never had much success with reviewers due to their lack of originality and seriousness. Their career has been like a mountain; they got to the top only to find that they had to go down again, and at the peak of this mountain would be "Hey There Delilah," which burst onto the scene in 2006. At the bottom side of this peak would be, well, that's for you to decide. I think this album is a step up from their previous efforts, with Tom Higgenson and lead guitarist Tim Lopez interchanging lead vocals from one track to another; they've started to climb a new mountain, if you will.
You're expecting an album nothing short of anything Disney can use on a soundtrack for some musical they've been writing. But no, you get something much better. It still lacks originality, but it has a new theme for each track on this record. This pop-rock band has more songs on this record that aren't about losing the person you love, not being able to talk to the person you love or not being able to love the person you love than they do about being irrational, mystery, maps of the world - you get my point.
“Rhythm of Love,” the lead single and first track to feature Lopez on vocals, shows that they can find a more withstand able singer (Lopez sings lead on four or five other tracks). Higgenson can take a break from writing, as Lopez penned this track himself, which explains why he wanted to sing it....full text
SputnikmusicThe Plain White T’s are quite possibly the most inoffensive band in the world, a sentiment which has gained them a ridiculously large fan base as well as an impressively large group of detractors. However, while people sing their praises or tag them as another “faux-emo” novelty, The Plain White T’s just keep playing their damned acoustic guitars and singing their stereotypical love songs, seemingly oblivious to the contention amongst their listeners.. It’s helped them in the past, as in the summer of 2008 it was nigh impossible to escape the shockingly simplistic, yet regretfully catchy, “Hey There Delilah.” Yet since their debut, the band really hasn’t altered much in the sense of, well, anything. Musically and lyrically the band has hit a plateau, with each release consisting of the same light and breezy alt-rock/pop-punk tracks, all of which consist of the same themes of love, being yourself, and other things teenagers enjoy hearing about.
Fortunately, the band’s newest effort, Wonders of the Younger mixes things up, even if just a minuscule amount. The Plain White T’s are still The Plain White T’s on this album, but they are a little more consistent, and have seemingly become more focused on improving their songwriting. More so than on previous releases, Wonders of the Younger features some, albeit few, truly interesting songs, something that has sorely escaped every album in their catalog thus far. While the album won’t win any prizes for originality, a good number of the tracks are genuinely fun, catchy, and worthy of praise. This was the band’s intention, as they had hoped to step outside their boundaries and produce something fresh, but maintain their overall sound (the idea arising after viewing the Cirque du Soleil production, O).
Thankfully, this doesn’t sound like the unmitigated disaster it could have been, and rightfully, should have been. There is a more “whimsical” vibe to the album for sure, which is bolstered by the theme of staying “young” and embracing the child -like “wonder” in us all. There is however, a half-assed circus concept underlying the album, but that was only made apparent through separate interviews and the uninspired cover art. It becomes apparent in one or two selections, but they feel like odd occurrences rather than pieces of a conceptual whole.
While the dreadful pseudo-concept does not do much for Wonders of the Younger, The Plain White T‘s appeared to have actually put a bit of effort into the music itself, something that may come as a shock to those following the band. There’s more groove throughout, with the bassist and drummer playing a much bigger role, often times overpowering the lackluster guitar work which is a definite plus. The soft airy ballads seem fuller, and more concise, as on several occasions there is more going on than just Tom Higgenson singing with his guitar. The band appears to be having some fun on Wonders of the Younger, and it really does show. There is more variety , with a tasteful amount of strings and horns being featured in a few selection. The swapping of singing duties is another improvement, as guitarist Tim Lopez is actually a rather decent vocalist, taking the spotlight off of Higgenson, who‘s weak and lackluster vocals have always been adequate enough to simply get by.
With a stronger band than ever, Wonders of the Younger features some of the most diverse and focused selections of the Plain White T’s career. The opener, “Irrational Anthem”, displays more creativity and intrigue than I ever thought possible with the Plain White T’s. It’s shockingly fun and upbeat, and it displays a band comfortable with their new found inspiration. “Killer” is another track that successfully steps outside the band’s comfort zone. It’s schmaltzy and meandering, sounding more akin to a song sang by a forlorn lover in a smoky bar , rather than a tune by the Plain White T’s. Songs such as these are what make Wonders of the Younger work, and keep the entire album from being a rehash of old material....full text
ContactmusicBursting from Illinois back in 2006, Plain White T's were able to garner a huge cult following after their huge hit single Hey There Delilah. Now, attempting to prove that they aren't a one hit wonder, the boys are back with Wonders of the Younger. Whilst, technically, this is actually their 6th album, it's the second time they have hit our shores. Establishing a more gentle and experimental record than their previous offerings, this is a radical new sound for the band.
Sticking within the rock-alternative genre, the Plain White T's are able to successfully reach the genre's extremes from Californian acoustic to heavy rock anthems. The album kicks off in fashionable style with the teenage angst Irrational Anthem; a great loud start to the LP. Whilst creating a Californian funk sound, the battle drums also establish an anthemic sound that is sure to go down well in festivals across the country next summer. Similarly, Rhythm of Love, the first single off this album, is an acoustic Jason Mraz-esque offering that is, again, reminiscent of that relaxed West Coast sound. Whilst the beautiful lyrics complement the song perfectly, a cynic may argue that this is a bit of an attempt to jump on the popular 'acoustic-folk' bandwagon that has been dominating the charts worldwide recently.
The band continues with creating great pop songs, which is typical of their sound. Broken Record is a very catchy track that has subtle influences from the 60s. Lead singer Tom Higgenson states that his past lover is 'stuck in my head like a broken record'; the same can be said about the track ironically. Going back to their roots, Last Breath is a beautiful ballad that may possibly be the best track off the LP. Combing very successfully the classical with rock, the track harbours a great orchestration instrumental; reminding us exactly what this band is best at doing....full text
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