Sound — 6
Originating from Huntington Beach, California, Hellogoodbye started among other Myspace-era acts on MP3.com and other such Internet-based music providers in 2001. Their self-titled EP released in 2004, consisting primarily of powerpop and miscellaneous computerized elements; the album was driven largely by singer/guitarist Forrest Kline and keyboard player Jesse Kurvink, and went on to sell a ballpark 400,000 copies (consisting almost entirely of digital sales). In 2006, their first (barely) full-length release, "Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!" was driven to the charts by synthpop single "Here (In Your Arms)". "Zombies!" refers occasionally to "Hellogoodbye" for influence, but with a wider range of electronic influence. The result is a very juvenile (though certainly fun-loving) half-hour of synthpop for... well, it's hard to tell. Lyrically, "Zombies!" tends to be as mature and sex-loving as any college sophomore, but the record is musically more prone to entertain a younger audience maybe a bit older than the Disney stars cater to, but no older than fourteen or fifteen. The indie rock here and there may entertain the seemingly sophisticated demographic they wish to reach, but confusion over whether the band overall is suggestive with an innocent face, or the opposite, makes the record's purpose difficult to distinguish. Hellogoodbye's love of all things synth is no more apparent than in the opener "All Of Your Love", which has better remix versions, and the only too fun "Touchdown Turnaround", which is arguably the best of the record. "Oh, It Is Love" and others feature a fixation on the mandolin, where "Homewrecker" features a less melodic, more indie rock sound. "Here (In Your Arms)", the record's lead single, is a liquid synthpop tune and, like the rest of the record, wonderfully cheesy. Though the record struggles to find an audience predisposed to liking it, those willing to place their tongue firmly in their cheek (as the band occasionally and unwittingly does) will enjoy "I Saw It On Your Keyboard" in all its Nintendoesque glory. Though the excessive computerized noise occasionally puts a barrier between the listener and the music ("Figures A And B"), "Zombies!" does achieve pure, unabashed fun on a scale few of their era did. The deluxe version features some demos, which features more punch on "Two Weeks In Hawaii" and a better version of "Homewrecker".
Lyrics — 5
Singer/songwriter Forrest Kline, with help on some tracks from keyboardist Kurvink, presents as charming, though naive, a face as any of the band's influences. Though less aggressive here than on the EP, he rocks through tracks like "Two Weeks In Hawaii" and "I Saw It On Your Keyboard". "Oh, It Is Love" draws most of its strength from his kiddie vocal work, and while this is a structural weakness, to pull off a track that alludes to runaway marriage without a hint of irony is some kind of achievement. Some vocal manipulation is in tracks like "Touchdown Turnaround", but these moments generally stays out of the record's way, rather than hinder the experience. Similar to "Oh, It Is Love", most of the record is as lyrically dumbed down as any synth record. "Everywhere at every time/I am yours and you are mine" and such phrases are scattered throughout, and though few moments are uncomfortable, many are as silly as the music on one hand, this benefits the album, but it's nice to see some degree of work every now and then. From the title, of course, one shouldn't expect anything but ridiculous fun had on "Zombies!", even if it means some lyrical sacrifices. And, in "Two Weeks In Hawaii" and others, it makes room for charming little moments like "You've got your airplane/And I've got the plain air of here."
Overall Impression — 7
What did you expect from synthpop? "Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!" is thirty-five minutes of over-the-top fun. Some indie rock and powerpop moments compliment it more than anything the grinding guitars in "Two Weeks In Hawaii" do a lot to strengthen the track in lieu of the demo version's stronger vocals. Anyone going into the record with any sense of irony or seriousness is in for a profound disappointment; Hellogoodbye is all about goofs, slip-ups, and embarrassing first dates. "Touchdown Turnaround" is the undisputed high point of the record, but the rest is so mercifully short that even in despising it will you find things to love from "Baby, It's Fact"'s keys to "All Time Lows" and its dense-sounding keys. "Zombies!" has something for ever college kid to love, even if it requires swallowing the bitter pill that, perhaps, the band isn't entirely aware of just how silly it is.