October 29, 2013 - Old Friends
Hellogoodbye’s sophomore album, 2010’s Would It Kill You?, marked a radical kiss-off to the sounds the group built their name on—namely, the shift from at-times grating synth-pop to creaky indie pop that oozed ELO and the Kinks. Kline has again reinvented himself on Everything Is Debatable, this time in the perfect marriage of the two styles. After the initial knee-jerk reaction wears off, you realize that underneath the beeps, bloops and whirring 8-bit synths, the songwriting is not that far removed from Would It Kill You?, just more bass-heavy and digitized. Sure, the reintroduction of the group’s electronic elements is a bit of a surprise, but they’re mostly tasteful and pepper the songs with interesting textural flourishes. Album opener “...And Everything Becomes A Blur” juxtaposes jangly acoustic guitar with skittering drum samples; “Just Don’t” is a disco-era slow jam bolstered by a hypnotic beat; and Kline leads “Summer Of The Lilly Pond” with the poise and panache of a Vegas lounge singer.
But if anything, Everything Is Debatable feels a bit reactionary, almost like Kline’s entry into the current electro-indie sweepstakes that’s paid dividends for bands like Passion Pit, fun. and M83. Songs like “(Everything Is) Debatable” and “Say You’re In Love” sound calibrated for Honda commercials and an invitation to next year’s Lollapalooza, though had Kline not been so inclined to dally (the album hits shelves nearly three years after Would It Kill You? and seven after the band’s debut album), perhaps Everything Is Debatable would have a swinging chance of reaching the heights achieved by the genre’s heavy hitters. That said, it’s ultimately better late than never as the album is still an expertly produced indie-pop record that should bring the singer expanded attention—or at the very least a prime slot on next month’s Urban Outfitters in-store soundtrack.