Sound: Hearts On Parade is the band's third album and as they say, their best yet. The band was formed back in 2001 by Stacey Jones who already had his hand in rock & roll prior to American Hi-Fi. Being a drummer, Jones taught himself to play guitar in the back of the tour bus on road with two of the 90's biggest alternative acts, Letters to Cleo and Veruca Salt.
American Hi-Fi released two albums in Boston on an Island, but after the Art of Losing the band had to change the label and move to L.A. They hooked up with the producer Butch Walker and recorded a new album. Hearts On Parade was released in Japan first as the band was looking for a domestic label. Eventually Maverick got interested and the album was issued in the States in April 2005.
That's definitely the band you want to listen to live and loud. The sound reminded me Blink 182 since it has the same chord patterns, oversimplified sounding and sharp tone, so-called neo punk's teenage rock. Though you wouldn't expect something great from that kind of music -- the most you can do with it is to listen with your friends at a party. My first impression of the album wasn't the best one - the music may seem pretty stupid when you listen to the band in your headphones, paying attention to every instruments' part individually, but in general it sounds ok. The guys made two covers on the album ? "The Geeks Get The Girls" and "Something Real." To be honest, some of the features made me think ? why did they do that? Like claps in "The Geeks Get the Girls" or "Chiki-ah-ah" sound in the beginning of "Hell Yeah!" That sounds quite out of place in those songs. Just wondering - is that the idea of what makes a song popular?
As for the instruments, the guitars are... the guitars. Nothing special, as in most bands of that kind. Some drum parts reminded of my childhood. Then me and my friends we trying to write songs using the cheap keyboard arrangements. There was a button, singed "Intro." Whenever we needed a bridge from verse to chorus, we pushed that button and it uttered a cheesy drum solo. Well, some of the drum solos are exactly like those "Intro" sounds. // 6
Lyrics: As Stacey Jones says, "Struggles, heartache, dark times, parties, its all there." This describes the story-telling type of lyrics on the album the best. Like in many other songs of this genre, lyrics are simple and catchy. You need not be very wise to understand what the band is singing about. "She's everything that you need, the kinda girl we all dream of, Long legs never stop" ? sounds pretty cool for a 18-year-old. But the fact, that the band members are far off college-age guys, makes you think that there's something wrong with them. Either the lyrics were written a couple of years ago or the band is fighting for teenage audience.
I wasn't impressed by the vocals either. Definitely, Jones has the ability to sing, but there's nothing to be impressed with. Again, that's not the kind of music you would demand good vocals from. So, I guess, his manner of singing is very acceptable here. // 6
Overall Impression: In general, the album makes a good impression, but doesn't impress you all that much, doesn't leave you with a feeling that you've heard something new. It seems like the band is trying too hard to get more success with their music and tries to follow the "how-to-write-a-catchy-song" rules, which make them sound like lots of other band of that kind. I wish there were more personality in the music and less stamps. In fact that's quite good musical comfort food - if you like listening to teenage pop-rock, you would like the album. If not, don't bother buying it, though the song Highs and Lows maybe worth downloading in my opinion. I enjoyed listening to Hearts On parade, still, I don't think I would ever think about the album again or have desire to listen to it. // 6