Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hellogoodbye album review

Would it Kill You?
(Rocket Science/Wasted Summer)
Grade: A

Four years between albums seems like an eternity in the ever-changing indie rock world. But this Huntington Beach, Calif. band didn’t sit around idly after impressive debut Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! and hit single “Here (In Your Arms)” went top 20 on the Billboard charts: there was a lineup revamp, lawsuit to exit their former label, marriage for creative mastermind Forrest Kline and a slight change in musical direction. Last time around, Hellogoodbye’s quirky songs were rife with keyboard programming, danceable rhythms, vocoder-ized singing and acoustic guitar-based emo ditties.

On Would it Kill You?,Kline and returning producer Matt Mahaffey (Beck, P!nk, The Sounds) handled most instruments and utilized actual string/horn players. The result is an enthralling ride through chamber and power pop terrain with 1960s-styled Beach Boys and Zombies detours. 

Kline’s lyrics reference aging, death and paranoia, yet a fun sense of restless energy still envelops the songs. Among the standouts: an upbeat “When We First Kissed,” sporting jangly and reverb-drenched guitars recalling early ‘80s Smiths; finger-snapping “Thoughts That Give Me the Creeps,” colored by ukulele and Celeste sounds and “I Never Can Relax,” where swooping orchestration and tack piano give way to a sweet falsetto vocal breakdown akin to Sigur Ros’ Jonsi. 

Then there’s “Betrayed by Bones,” which gallops alongside sparse vocals before suddenly bursting into dense atmospherics. Buoyant harmonies abound. This one was definitely worth the wait.

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