Titling this one: “Would It Kill You?” OR “Hellogoodbye Grows Up, Goes Off to College, Gets a Really Well-paying Job and Then Crafts a Supremely Mature and Fun Album.”
Used to be, HGB was… something of a boy band. Am I off base with that assessment? There was a stigma attached to the band: they were too fun and twee for a straight male to enjoy. Maybe that’s just my perception because of the weird looks I’d get when I said I listened to their music, wore their shirts, or went to their shows.
Either way, Would It Kill You is far and away the best Hellogoodbye material to date. It’s no longer just fun middle school girls sleepover party music. They grew out of that original Hellogoodbye EP era with ZOMBIES! ALIENS! VAMPIRES! DINOSAURS! and it was again evident even with the simple Ukelele Recordings release.
While they’ve always been a fun band, it’s no longer “stupid” fun. Don’t get me wrong, “Shimmy Shimmy Quarter Turn” and “Jesse Buy Nothing… Go to Prom Anyways”, two of the songs that helped to establish whole swaths, nay, legions of squealing high school freshladies, are fun and still “every now and again” jams. It takes a certain mood, sure. But you can’t deny that their music makes you smile.
On ZOMBIES!, Forrest and co. tried to write sappy love songs and I wasn’t that into it. Re-recorded versions of “Homewrecker” (my jam from the original recordings that traipsed about the internet in the mid-2000s) and “Touchdown Turnaround” were offset by tunes like “Here (In Your Arms)” and evidenced the band’s growing pains. It was obvious the band wanted to be more than just the kitschy, “short shorts/beach ball/silly string dance party” group.
With Would It Kill You?, Hellogoodbye has accomplished just that. In a word, WIKY? Is sublime.
Tracks here aren’t gimmicky, and sound far more mature than what you might expect from a band that was as well known for its on stage antics with giant cardboard standees, costumed gorillas, bubbles, and confetti cannons, as they were for their electronic drum and keyboard-heavy tunes.
Songs like “Finding Something to Do,” “You Sleep Alone” and “Would It Kill You?” are super well thought-out, play up some killer melodies and feature the most creative guitar work from the band to date. An Hellogoodbye album driven by organic sounds – whoda thunk it?
If you’re looking for any more of an excuse to listen to Hellogoodbye (and also just so you can manage to sneak in a few tracks from the original EP because you’re embarrassed to admit that you, too, have a guilty pleasure for this band), by all means: this album is it.
And for what it’s worth: “You Sleep Alone” really should have been track one. Best song on here by far.
Standout tracks: “You Sleep Alone” and “Would It Kill You?”
Weakest track: Not crazy about “Betrayed by Bones” – the laser sounds are just too cheesy on an album that’s trying to get away from their roots.
RIYL: Power pop? I don’t listen much to this genre anymore, but Last.fm suggests Motion City Soundtrack. I used to listen to them, and that’s a decent start for a basis of comparison.