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Released: Oct 29, 2013
Genre: Indie Pop, Powerpop, Indietronica, Alternative
Label: Old Friends Records
Number Of Tracks: 11
Hellogoodbye's third album shows a maturing of their sound, though the lyrics still seem to be stuck in a teenage state of mind.
Everything Is DebatableFeatured review by: UG Team, on november 15, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Hellogoodbye formed over a decade ago in 2001, as a way for founding members Forrest Kline and Jesse Kurvink to try getting girls in high school (as many bands do). It wasn't until 2006 when the group released their debut album, "Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!", which had their platinum-certified indie-pop hit "Here (In Your Arms)." Based on their previous albums, it's safe to say Hellogoodbye has a young innocence to its music. However, the release of their newest album, "Everything Is Debatable," shows that Hellogoodbye's sound has matured a lot since their earlier works. The bad part of this is that the lyrics don't seem to mature with the music, which leaves a strange gap between intricate and elementary within the album.
The album begins with "...And Everything's a Blur," where a spastic, video-game inspired synth loop plays in the beginning, then shortly brings in a righteous-sounding acoustic guitar and echoed vocals. The happy sounds and warm feeling the song bares is akin to a Christmas carol - though it's much more up-tempo than a Christmas carol. The next track, "(Everything Is) Debatable," rallies up all the sounds to create this nu-disco style tune – from the fat, groovy bass-line, the clean, upbeat guitar chords and the splashy, prominent drum-line, to the backing, falsetto "doo-doo-doo" vocals. You could try and argue that they didn't execute the style well, but once you catch yourself nodding your head to the song, you've lost the argument. "The Magic Hour Is Now" starts with a drum machine loop and a folky, organic acoustic guitar chords, and a rich bass-line. Once the bridge comes, the bass-line gets doused in fuzzy distortion. "Swear You're in Love" sort of feels like it's just part two of "The Magic Hour Is Now," based on the tempo and the drum beat, but the drums are organic rather than synthetic, and the dreamy-sounding, shoegaze-influenced electric guitar plays the melodic lead role rather than the acoustic guitar in the previous track. Though the song is only about four minutes long, the last minute- where the chorus, "if you're in love, swear you're in love" is constantly repeated- makes you want to fast-forward through it. "Summer of the Lilly Pond" puts the synths in the backseat and goes for an indie-rock style with an extra dose of "rock." The presence of brass instruments and the swing-y rhythm of the drums also give this song a jazzy feel to it. The song makes a smooth transition into the next song, "Just Don't Let Go Just Don't." The intro of the song- with light melodies from the guitars and synths- makes you think that this is going to be another slow-jam, but the façade is abandoned, and the kick drum brings it to an indie-dance tempo. The super fuzzy bass-line serves as the backbone of the song, while the playful drum-line coaxes you to get out of your seat and dance. Towards the end of the song, the guitar moves from its heavily-reverbed sound into a muted, plucky, funk-inspired sound. The transition to the next song, "I Don't Worry (As Much as I Should)," quickly ends the dance-y feel and leads into airy, atmospheric synths, soon to be filtered down and introduce the lead piano line. The warm aura of the piano, the vocals, and the violins near the end of the song are juxtaposed by a low, rumbling sound that fades in and out, as well as the drum machine loop, which brings a little bit of pop flavor to this ballad. "How Wrong Can I Be" puts the synths on center-stage, while the guitar adds on to the dreamy atmosphere that the synths create. The ending drum-fill foreshadows the energetic drum-line in the next song, "An External Force," which has the most complex drum-line in the entire album. The fuzzy bass-line gives the song a lot of body, while the synths and guitar provide the positive-sounding melody in a tag-team fashion during the verses, and come in unison at the choruses and breaks. "Die Young, Die Dumb; Not Soon" brings another shot of up-tempo rock to the album, with a beach-rock-inspired drum-line and bass-line, a catchy, hummable guitar-line and a sing-able chorus. The final song, "A Near Death Experience," opens with a slow, symphonic medley of synths and guitars, then goes into the lighter-waving, indie slow-jam. And while it is a slow-jam, don't prejudge and think the song will leave you comatose - though the verses are tranquil, the drums and synths in the choruses are quite powerful. // 8
Lyrics: Compared to the amount of work done in the sound aspect of the album, the lyrical aspect of the album comes off as an afterthought. There are a number of examples of lazy rhyming that are eyeroll-worthy - for example, Kline rhymes "infinite" with "in it" in "The Magic Hour Is Now," and rhymes "way" with "away" in "...And Everything Becomes a Blur." And just like many of the song titles would suggest, the lyrics in nearly all of the songs are centered in frontman Forrest Kline's perspective, and his lyrics frequently address somebody else. Some may find this too ego-centric, but no one's going to stop you if you put yourself in Kline's shoes, assume the perspective of the song as your own, and blast one of the lovey-dovey songs outside of your ex-lover's house while you mouth out the words "you complete me." But overall, the lyrics feel too sappy, and aren't poignant enough to be admired. // 4
Overall Impression: While the lyrics of the album are adequate at best, they don't ruin the album. The music aspect of the album is solid enough to warrant "Everything Is Debatable" a listen, and if synth-pop slow-jams aren't your cup of tea, the faster-tempo tracks on the album are worth checking out, as well as the dance-y tunes of "(Everything Is) Debatable" and "Just Don't Let Go Just Don't." // 7