I Would Like To See Them Now Leave "Pretty Good
Posted October 14, 2008
In my review of their popular but dull debut, I asked if The Afters would take hold of their potential in their sophomore effort. Now that the album is upon us, and I've thoroughly scrutinized it, I can say that with confidence that it's a strong effort, but still not great.
First off, I pre-ordered the album, and got it at FCS for $5. 12 tracks for $5, or even $12 is a good deal, and I applaud the band for providing more material. There's no fillers, and "The Secret Parade," which happens to be the shortest track, has a unique sound which everybody had dubbed "Beatles-esque." Whether it should be compared to the Fab 4 is mute, but isn't everybody doing that nowadays?
Highlights include the familiar "Never Going Back To OK," the slightly cheesy but highly emotional "Ocean Wide," the power rocker "We Are The Sound," and the absolute highlight, the best song made about the popular social-networking disaster, "MySpace Girl" is an extremely catchy pop rock song containing every lyrical nugget you can drag out of the site. He's putting her in his top 8 spaces, it's "OurSpace," and the list goes on. Again, a bit cheesy, but these songs usually are.
Unfortunately, the back half of the album is not as good as the first half, but they all have their moments. In fact, looking back on this album, there isn't any track I could point to and say, that's the weak-spot. But as in songs like "One Moment Away," as good as they may be on their own, they kind of get lost in the shuffle of the album, and an hour or two after listening, you've forgotten half the tracks. Maybe it's songs like "Summer Again," which try too hard to be that love ballad, while still putting up a good effort. It's like the guy guessing somebody's weight at a carnival. He may have had the general range, but he was still 10 lbs. off.
And how could I end without talking about the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy inspired "Forty-Two." In case you don't know, in the book, the author used the number 42 as the random meaning of life in his comedic take on the exploration of philosophy. So of course, the singer in the song wants to know the meaning of his life, and the lyrics do a decent job with the subject matter. But at this point you really get "The Afters' Sound", and you're really wanting them to change it at least a bit at this point.
Overall, The Afters seem to be stepping up the latter, but they're taking it in increments. While the album contains many a strong track, they're sticking value is debatable, and I think they could have done better with an already job well done. Next album, the band should just let it all hang out, which they attempt to do in this record, but never really stick that foot off the cliff. Of course, at the rate they're going at now, their third project should be a five-star effort all the way.
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