Sound: When I first heard mention of a new Daughtry album, I was expecting something new. After all, Chris teased us on Twitter for months, dropping hints that the new album would be heavier, with "guitars turned up to 11" and that it would "sound nothing like the first two records". When "Break The Spell" was announced as the album title, I thought that it was another hint that Daughtry would finally make a real hard rock album, instead of a sugary arena rock album. The first single "Renegade" seemed to testify to that. A rock song with riffs, pounding drums, and an anthemic chorus? I was definitely hoping the rest of "Break The Spell" would sound like that. Alas, when I finally listened to the rest of it, I heard same old Daughtry.
The band has become sort of a poor man's Nickelback, with less metal influences. Unlike Nickelback, Chris does write about topics besides sex (sex is almost never mentioned in Daughtry), but the band's trademark poppy rock sound is on full display here. There are a couple rockers besides "Renegade", with the funky rock stomp "Outta My Head" being an album highlight, and "Louder Than Ever" which sounds tailormade for summer road trips, but one gets the feeling that Daughtry are still being held back by their record label RCA, which is home to many "American Idol" performers. The band has still not been allowed to do what Chris seems to want to be doing, which is writing legitimate hard rock songs. It's not a bad album, mind you, it's just been heard before, and feels too familiar. // 7
Lyrics: Chris still sounds the same, with his voice walking the line between post-grunge rocker and pop crooner. At times, he pulls out both sides in the same song. The lyrics are business as usual, love, cars, etc although "Gone Too Soon" is a change of pace, with lyrics about the loss of a child. Still, typical Daughtry. // 7
Overall Impression: To set the record straight, I don't dislike "Break The Spell". It just sounds familiar and safe to me, as if Chris and the rest of the band didn't want to risk writing a record that radio would reject. Yes, Daughtry is one of the few bands that can do both rock and pop, but as of right now, they're skimping on the rock too much. I'm still waiting for the ballsy post-grunge hard rock record that Daughtry can clearly make if they wanted to. The deluxe edition has four bonus tracks, with "Who's They" sounding darker and grungier than most of the regular album and "Maybe We're Already Gone" being a solid rock song. // 7