July 17, 2007 - Island
Rocket Summer mastermind Bryce Avary merges Cheap Trick’s hard pop hooks, Dashboard Confessional’s earnestness and Roy Thomas Baker’s production ear on Do You Feel. Like Baker-producer of “Bohemian Rhapsody” before scoring big with Journey, Foreigner and the Cars-Avary has a gift for thickly stacked melodies that blend synth and rock guitar with radio-ready choruses. Avary plays nearly every instrument on the album (as he’s always done), but there’s too much power at his disposal for his major label debut. While the adventurousness of the horn-driven R&B on “So Much Love” is admirable, the size of the production combines with Avary’s heartfelt sentimentality to moonwalk the plank over a sea of Velveeta. “This is me,” he sings on the uncommonly cutting “A Song Is Not A Business Plan,” and there’s no sense of sellout. Rather, like a stage actor moving to cinema, Avary’s heartfelt gesticulations feel over the top in these already grand arrangements. His plucky charms are more apparent on the second half, highlighted by the canny pop-punk attack on fair-weather friends “Taken Aback,” and the resilient piano-driven road anthem “Colors.” Only 24 years old, Avary’s occasional overwrought moments are redeemed by melodies catchy enough for them to succeed in spite of themselves.
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