I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that at one point, many moons (but one sun) ago, I listened to Hellogoodbye. Willingly. Like, of my own volition.
There’s a reason for this, of course, which I’ll get to. But I need to preface today’s entry if only for the fact of what the band was formerly known for, and also my invaluable street cred which may be damaged* in the process.
ZOMBIES! ALIENS! VAMPIRES! DINOSAURS! is the first full-length album released by the band. It follows their hugely successful eponymous debut EP, which has now sold over 400,000 copies. Although those were pre-YouTube days (2004), so I can’t imagine it selling that many units today.
The thing about this record is what changed over time for the band. Hellogoodbye from its onset was Forrest Kline on vocals and guitar and Jesse Kurvink on keyboards and such. What began as a way to pick up girls in high school (not a joke) soon caught on with the still-burgeoning Internet and MP3.com.
So imagine trying to find music and what was happening online from 2001 to 2004. Clearly, different times. And in terms of independent music, a lot less cynicism in general. That was the era when this band’s rise in popularity went from neat powerpop band with hot dog costumes and other live show sight gags, and not to mention the juvenile-but-relentlessly-danceable “Jesse Buy Nothing (Go To Prom Anyway)” … all the way to “Here in Your Arms” with its national radio play and relative success.
ZOMBIES! could have been a case of a band getting ahead of itself. What actually transpired is that Kurvink left the band, the creative mind behind “Prom With Jesse” and the rest of the loud and fast (but still maintaining their poppy edge) tracks that HGB wrote.
And maybe my personal expectations were set too high because of this album’s demos and the previously released EP. Hellogoodbye, like Panic! at the Disco before them, ran into the issue of demo versions of their songs being as good – or at times better – than the final product.
Ask any fan of the band about the songs and demos before their DVD (the painful to type out OMG HGB DVD ROTFL) was released and you’ll likely get an outpouring of emotion. There is a strange attachment many HGB fans like myself feel to the way things were in the early days of the group. They had cornered a market that fans hardly even know they wanted yet, and quickly abandoned it in favor of the syrupy sweet, radio friendly songs like the aforementioned “Here In Your Arms” and “Oh, It Is Love.”
And that’s fine for the group, considering the success they’ve enjoyed. Just listening to this album makes me miss that era, is all.
At the very least, once Kurvink was out of the picture, Forrest and co. were able to mature their sound into the tremendously enjoyable Would It Kill You? When looking for a throwback from this band though, I prefer the EP over ZOMBIES!
From their smash debut, this is Hellogoodbye’s “Touchdown Turnaround (Don’t Give Up On Me”) –
Standout tracks: “Stuck to You” and “Homewrecker” and “All Time Lows”
Weakest track: “Here In Your Arms” and “Oh It Is Love” – Good lord, MAKE IT STOP.
RIYL: Power pop, electro pop, the incredible Drive-Thru Records and Fueled by Ramen rosters from 2003-2008.
*Which I’m hoping is offset by the fact that all I’ve listened to the last week outside of the albums for each day’s post has been: Run the Jewels (the spectacular debut from the ironclad combo of Killer Mike and El-P) – Run the Jewels, El Michaels Affair’s 37th Chamber, which is a collection of Wu-Tang Clan instrumental covers, and Kanye West’s Yeezus. And also preparing for Jay’s Magna Carta Holy Grail. We cool now, Internet? Just need a yes.