t is strange for a pop-punk band to have a full-time pianist but Something Corporate manages to make it work as music and not some exhibitionist dribble. They first released the Audioboxer
E.P. (containing the epic fan-fave "Konstantine" as a hidden track) in 2001, containing songs found on their Drive-Thru release, Leaving Through the Window
. After their first album proper was released, they garnered underground success as people across the nation could be found singing along to "I Kissed a Drunk Girl" and "If U C Jordan." A video for "Woke Up In a Car" didn't hurt, either. For all of that, they got attention from Geffen. North
was released, backed by both labels.
I will not go over every track for this album.
The opener is innocent enough, with Andrew singing "close your eyes." This gentle introductory piece resembles "I Want to Save You" from Leaving Through the Window
and looks promising for the rest of the album. Their first single, "Space," follows, again creating hope for the album. A strong song in its own right, but it suffers from an out-of-place bridge. The chorus is catchy as hell, though, and is one of the album's highlights. By the time "Down" and "Only Ashes" finish, though, I can't help but wonder why there are so many mid-tempo sound-alikes so far. The music isn't bad but it could use some diversity. Thankfully, "Me and the Moon" comes along to save the album. More pianos are complimented by a string arrangement to herald a very somber song and, in my opinion, the album's shining moment. My only hope is that it is not released as a single. Unfortunately, "The Runaway" returns to the mid-tempo soft/loud formula that the band can't seem to get over for the life of them. "Ruthless" starts off with a piano sounding classically Something Corporate but without the rest of the song adding much to differentiate it from anything else. However, this song is the best candidate to either introduce the album or as a reference to their debut, as the chorus is catchy and the song is pretty, but without much interesting going on. "She Paints Me Blue" breaks up the mid-tempo crisis with some sped-up drumming to introduce the song. Also, they don't resort to the soft/loud dynamics. Instead, the song relies on the piano, the driving drums, and whale-like shouts from the guitar in the background. Hope for a change in the album dies with "Break Myself." Another mid-tempo song without adding to the spectrum of music and another soft/loud song. "I Won't Make You" is pretty enough. It's not original in any sense and is still mid-tempo, but it's pleasant nonetheless. The old power-pop spirit takes control in "21 and Invincible." Complete with pretty whoas and a driving rhythm, this could be their next single. The tacky rhyming of "power" and "hour" kills it, though. It's loud the entire way through, though, so at least it avoids one pitfall present in most of the other tracks. Finally, "Miss America" comes along with the piano and a sad mood. The chorus is lifting but not loud, yet triumphant in its own right. Drums come straight from the inspiration of Travis Barker's work in Boxcar Racer's "There Is" while the guitars and bass float along as the piano rounds out the rhythm with the drums. On a bittersweet note, the album ends.
If you didn't like Andrew's voice before, North
won't change your mind. Too little diversity and bland instrumentation kills the effort. Lyrically, Andrew and Josh show proud moments, but those are offset by more average work. The band hasn't progressed much since Leaving Through the Window
. Maybe with more time for both writing and being in a band, they can make something less disposable. Until then, I have to stick with the
2/5. Musical diversity is missing. That could have been saved a bit with stronger lyrics. Overall, it's not a terrible album. It's just nothing new or particularly interesting enough to merit a higher rating. As a friend put it, "it was good the first few songs, but by the time the cd was over with, I didn't even notice when one track ended and the next began." The bad simple outweighs the good. Even then, it's not really BAD, per se, but not noteworthy.