Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Album Review: Daughtry - Leave This Town (4.5 / 5)

I'll probably be on holiday when this is posted, but please do still leave comments. The US talent show, American Idol, has managed to be the driving force behind this decades most fulgent American pop artists, ever since the show debuted in 2001. Kelly Clarkson, the shows first winner has went on to sell an excess of 20 million albums worldwide. Carrie Underwood, the shows fourth winner has become the biggest thing to happen to Country music since LeAnne Rimes. Even contestants who didn't make it all the way have made quite a name for themselves; which is where our story begins: Chris Daughtry, reached the top 4--after his elimination, Chris formed a band under his last name, Daughtry, dropping their self titled album in 2006.

Daughtry, was a fantastic debut, whilst being an all round solid rock album, especially the first half which was immaculate--it was quite the commercial success for an American Idol, selling 4.5 million copies domestically and spawning two top 5 hits ("It's Not Over" and "Home") followed by two consecutive top 40 hits ("Feels Like Tonight" and "What About Now"). For their debut, the sound was more rock combined with light pop, with simple yet compelling melodies. With, Leave This Town, the sound is pretty much the same blueprint as before, but emphasizing more on rock, possibly even more aggressive.

Opening the album is the Linkin Park styled rock "You Don't Belong" strung with your typical drums and layers of electronic guitar, but still effective--Chris' bold vocals definitely give the song the antipathetic feel. It's definitely a more stronger opener than the acoustic guitar strung rock/pop opener on "It's Not Over" on the last album. It's pretty dark--the only sign of darkness on the last album was the collaboration with Slash, former lead guitarist from Guns 'N' Roses on "Crash."

Daughtry get more top 40 on the lead single "No Surprise," I still like this, although it sounds like a retread of Nickelback's "Gotta Be Somebody" who also went the same route, releasing the song as the lead single from their latest album, Dark Horse. Fronted by the bands bristle engery and a breezy, radio friendly sound, this is a nice song. Maybe a little too light for my liking when listening to this kind of music, but hey, I'm just splitting hairs now. Fact: Chris actually wrote the song with Chad Kroeger from Nickelback, now that would explain the similarities.

Next up is "Ever Time You Turn Around" which obtains a fantastic chorus, I really love this--the verses are very high energy and gritty, which makes the chorus' occurrence more pleasurable. Following is "Life After You" which also has pretty strong chorus, but probably leaning on the more simply melodic endeavor. It's probably one of the few tracks that channel the same type of sound on the last album.

"What I Meant to Say" is a real comeuppance, it's probably my favorite track on the album. After my first couple listens, I still get goosebumps as the chorus approaches and the fantastic melody accompanied by Chris' aggressive vocal kicks in. Backed by pacing drums, strings and acoustic and electronic guitars on the verses before kicking into a more hefty composition on the chorus, employing an immediate gorgeous key change. I think I like it almost as much as their instant classic "Home." This is really a fantastic song. Written with Songwriter, Brian Howes, the song tells a love story of a girl walking away when the going gets tough, the lyric goes ("It's so typical of you to walk away, when your perfect little world is burning down") and trying to hold on when the other's letting go ("I've been holding on, while you've been letting go"). It's a simple (and possible cliche) yet compelling storyline. Definitely among the heavy hitters of the album, or possibly the heaviest. This wouldn't make a bad video, hopefully it becomes a single.

"Open Up Your Eyes" is a tender ballad, styled like Kelly Clarkson's "Cry" from her latest album, All I Ever Wanted. It's a collaborative effort with Chris and Songwriter and former lead guitarist of Evanescence, Ben Moody. Backed with your archetypal string and pacing drums to form your everyday pop/rock ballad. Although I wouldn't say it's that genric, it's not anything unique either.

By this point of the album I do get a bit weary because as, Daughtry, was a great album, by the time it reached its halfway mark it did begin to wear itself down, although not so much that it suddenly turned into a terrible record. Leave This Town, doesn't have that problem... exactly. This time around it boils down to my taste in music. The most hyped about track before the album dropped was "September" which the title, Leave This Town, is taken from. The track is another ballad, mostly piano and string based, but not anything that notable. It's probably what I will be skipping in future listens to the album and most likely listening on its own when I just want to listen to a ballad. "Gost of Me" isn't bad, it's a pretty strong track, I like Chris' vocals in this--it attempts a Metallica-ish front in the chorus, which doesn't live up to its goals. "Learn My Lesson" is another ballad, I like this better than "September" although I feel it does weaken the album a tad (or am I just splitting hairs again?). It has a nice melody and a "What About Now" styled chorus.

The ending three tracks aren't bad, but aren't anything credible to the album. "Supernatural" thumps a pretty slick electronic guitar backed bassline, picking up on the chorus as something more lighthearted. "Tennessee Line" is a stripped down, string backed ballad--which has been hailed upon critics, I actually really like this and the closing track "Call Your Name" gives the album a subtle but weak ending, extending its ballad count to four, which is way too much soppyness for an album I expected to more aggressive. It's not a bad ballad though, it just joins in a string of too many. Leave This Town, is in fact a great follow up to, Daughtry, whilst it does have its moments of blah... It's a great album. It's not as solid as the first album, but it's still great nonetheless.

Best: What I Meant Say, No Surprise, Every Time You Turn Around, Life After You, Tennessee Line

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