Review Summary: WARNING: This review suggests that there may be an exit from the boy-band graveyard!
The Script may well be the new kids on the Irish block, but their target is clearly the entire world. The story of the coming together of this 3 piece is an interesting one... Vocalist Danny O'Donoghue and guitarist Mark Sheehan were previously members of failed boy-band MyTown. The two then relocated to L.A where they began working as engineers and producers, being associated with the likes of Teddy Riley & The Neptunes, as well as performers such as Justin Timberlake & Britney Spears. Then, without planning, drummer Glen Power hooked up with them and the rest is history.
The Script's path to fame and fortune could well be due to the fusion of styles to be found on this self-titled debut. It is clear that the trio has a liking for the contemporary R&B scene prevalent in the U.S, yet the rock climate in which they were brought up on in Ireland is also thankfully present. Throw in some soul, (a little too much) Coldplay-like piano-rock and just a pinch of boy-band tripe and The Script goes down smoothly and rather impressively, whether it be on your headphones or in a stadium.
The combination of genres is best seen on lead single and album opener 'We Cry', which on first listen is a seemingly generic pop offering. Yet, its eye for detail in almost every department is exquisite as it reveals itself on further listening. O'Donohue's smooth vocals range from run-of-the-mill pop to faster and almost spoken-word passages here, while a variety of backing vocal techniques assist effectively at all the right times. Meanwhile, the production of the live drums and noticeable guitar parts add a rock-like flavor to the mix which ranges from jazzy chords to soulful grooves.
While the musicianship is above-average for such a group, it is clearly singer O'Donoghue who will make or break The Script. While his super smooth voice is almost too clinical in its clear enunciation, he impressively provides a variety of styles to the mix. Listeners will compare his vocals to a number of performers as he appears to have borrowed bits and pieces from his inspirations. There is a little bit of Bono here and some Rob Thomas there. But the fascinating comparison that stands out most is (the always difficult to impersonate) Sting. O'Donoghue even has a crack at pulling off Stevie Wonder in the soul-infused cut 'If You See Kay', a clear contender for lamest song title of 2008.
It is not just O'Donoghue's voice which stands out though, it is also his compelling story-telling which places The Script above the pop-rock pack. The themes here are nothing new as the usual social commentaries and relationship troubles pop up more often than not. Yet, there is usually an interesting twist which demands attention, whether it be the use of a suicide metaphor for a relationship breakdown in 'Talk You Down', or the motivational message to the naive in the very good 'Fall For Anything' which is both up-front and up-beat in equal measures.
There are indeed some misfires on this self-titled debut. The Script's take on edgy contemporary R&B on 'Rusty Halo' is misguided, while their attempt at morphing a piano ballad into something epic on 'The End Where I Begin' does not quite work. Yet, it is a credit to the pop sensibilities of the trio that even these two cuts may lodge in the back of your head for a while. And yes, one track (the closing sappy acoustic ballad 'I'm Yours') even includes more than a hint of their boy-band past. These are weaknesses that can be forgiven though since this is a debut album and The Script redeem themselves through quality tracks elsewhere, such as the grower that is 2nd single 'The Man Who Can't Be Moved' and the positively infectious & melodic 3rd single 'Breakeven'.
There appears to be a sense of pride and ethic behind The Script that make them more than just an average pop-rock band and should serve them well in their future endeavors. It appears that their past experiences have given them a grounding of what is required to make appealing and accomplished music. Almost entirely self-written and produced, The Script's self-titled debut may not be the most memorable or supremely catchy album ever, but this is not regular every-day pop music. Throw away your preconceptions and listen a little closer and that should become apparent.
Recommended Tracks: We Cry, Breakeven, The Man Who Can't Be Moved & Fall For Anything.
Oh man, I did have the pleasure of reading your AllMusic review previously Dave & didn't even realize that it was you! Hell, I had no idea you wrote for that site full stop. But maybe I should have clicked as many of their reviews sound similar in writing to yours & then go on to seemingly over-rate an album when it comes to giving out the stars. So when I saw 2.5, I was a little taken aback as the wording is not overly negative.
Originality is clearly an issue with the band, although I wouldn't call them "cheap" knock-offs. As for the Sting comparison, I will strongly stand by that. Even on 'We Cry', if you listen closely to the backing vocals, you can hear the similarity. 'Rusty Halo' is another one.
I think our main differences of opinion here come on songs such as 'Breakeven' and 'Fall For Anything' as I am a fan of both, especially the former.
Oh and on the AllMusic review, you suggest that 'Talk You Down' is a song about suicide. As per my review, I do not think it actually is. In a way, that is what I like about this album. Look deeper on most tracks & there are a few things that become apparent in a positive manner. This is the case musically, vocally & lyrically.
SNACKARYBINX, I know that the word "Respect" & "SputnikMusic" don't usually go hand in hand, but I'm here to change things dammit. Plus, didn't you read what Dave wrote? He writes for AllMusic.
I believe I have the most original avatar on this website. Look at the artistic nature of it... The way it creates space... And allows your imagination to run wild!
DAVE, that's interesting to know about AllMusic's method of rating albums. I can see what they are aiming for (sort of the same reason why I have been reviewing multiple albums for the same artist on this site); Consistency & some form of reliable comparison. But there are ways of doing that without compromising the ratings system I think.
Just to give some people an idea of what others think The Script sound like (although it is more exaggerated hype than anything too accurate), I was recently reading an article on the band where the interviewer mentioned the following combinations:
- U2 meets Timbaland
- Van Morrison remixed by Teddy Riley
I think just leaving it at contemporary R&B combined with rock will suffice.
I'm in awe of how truly great this album is and knowing that 2 of the members came from a ridiculous boy band "MY Town" this album has a lot of originality and sounds extremely fresh with a classic feel in the aspect that this album 20 years down the road will still sound fresh. For me it's album of the year, I really like everything about the album, lyrically and musically. and I read a review where they describe the music as a cross between U2 meets Timbaland, and that's a fair assumption. But the album is totally original sounding at the same time. I know this album is gonna get mixed reviews but I think that's a sign of originality. I really think it's a perfect album 5/5This Message Edited On 12.19.08
Well, well, well... There is some love out there for this album after all. Great to see as this is one pop album that may have passed under the radar in 2008.
Rating it a 5 and calling it the album of the year may be going a little over the top, but to each their own I suppose... and I probably would have it in my top 25 or so anyway. I think this was the pleasant surprise of the year, that's for sure.
Reading back over my review, I'm really happy with how this came out. Just thought I'd chuck that in... LOL!
Woah Davey, you do whack them out fast don't ya. Good review as usual. I have to admit to not actually knowing who this band was until about last week when I recognized one of their songs on the radio, which was pretty awesome. Can't for the life of me remember what is was called or how it went though.
Edit: Ahh I thought this was a somewhat new review when I wrote this, oh well still a good review.This Message Edited On 12.19.08
DaveyBoy - I'm no psychic, but I somehow guessed that you would like this album.
Really fantastically amazing review, but I just don't like these guys. The singer really ruins it for me, I've hated his voice ever since I heard the Live Lounge cover these guys did of Eminem's Lose Yourself. I'm biased though, my sister likes them so I'm not allowed to
Yeah Ross, I wrote this back in September when the album was released in the States & Oz (although it was released earlier in the UK). Their 2 main hits off this album were 'We Cry' & 'The Man Who Can't Be Moved'. If you look back at the first comment to this review, Dave DeSylvia calls the former "more or less the best single released this year". Meanwhile, a local paper down here had 'The Man Who Cant Be Moved' in their top 20 singles of '08.
Spamue1, my pop-rock tendencies tend to give me away I suppose. I have not heard the cover of 'Lose Yourself', but I must say I was glad he didn't over-use his rap-like vocals on this album. They're good here & there for variety, but if they go in that direction too much for their 2nd album, it could tank it. LOL re: the comment about your sister.
Just searched youtube, it definitely wasn't We Cry, although it is a good song, nowhere near top singles of 08 though, for me my top fve (no order) are sex on fire, space and the woods, talons, time to pretend and standing next to me (yeah try and guess what kind of music I've been into this year lol) and I don't see anything else worming its way onto the list.
Edit: The song was The man who can't be moved, bloody good song that, though still not in my top 5.This Message Edited On 12.19.08
And we can add Strikey to the list of people who don't mind this album... Good stuff. It is ironic or coincidental that the 2 tracks you mentioned were the ones I used in the same sentence in my review. I suppose, in a sense, those 2 are barometers for this debut. 'Rusty Halo' is very superficial, but catchy as hell. 'End Where I Begin' is extremely ambitious for such a group, yet probably a little too much for mine. But, like I said in my review, both songs could stick with a listener for differing reasons.
I thought it may have been 'The Man Who Cant Be Moved' Ross. It's an interesting song lyrically that one and the video sells the lyrics well too.
Gee, top 5 singles discussion is a tough one for me, which also depends upon the elegibility for criteria. I think the best song I've heard all year is Rise Against's "Savior", but that has not been released as a single as yet. Conversely, Say Anything's "Shiksa" was released as a single in '08, but was on a 2007 album. But if I can be broad, those 2 would probably be joined by 'We Cry', 'Sex On Fire' and MGMT's 'Kids' as my top 5.
Dave liked it, Davey liked it, DavID didn't. You're out David'ed 2 to 1.
Your punishment is 'The Curse of 1,000 Shillelaghs'; You will have 1,000 shillelaghs rain down on you at some stage within the next 24 hours. And I'd also keep away from Irish bars if I was you!
I think End Where I Begin just flows so well, lyrically OK it's generic and vague but it's better than Coldplay ever wrote before Viva La Vida and it's pretty powerful, if it weren't for the little-bit-strange bridge it would be in my top 5 singles of the year.
Hmmm, top 5 singles...Lovers in Japan, Use Somebody, Fast Blood (Frightened Rabbit), Check Yes Juliet (We The Kings), Fall For You (Secondhand Serenade). Maybe. Something like that.
Yeah, I think I more than "don't mind it" either, but I was talking generally & involving a few more people I guess.
Unsure I agree with the Coldplay comment, but I won't get into that here.
Secondhand Serenade is another band (sorry, 1 guy) I need to give a listen to soon. I was actually going to use that as an album in the 'Recommended By Reviewer' section for this review. Would you recommend that album also Strikey, or is it a 1-3 song affair with lots of filler...???
If you hadn't looked it up yourself already Ross, a shillelagh is "a wooden club typically made from a stout knotty stick with a large knob on the end, that is associated with Ireland & Irish folklore."
Basically, it's a thick plank of wood that you don't want to be hit with... & its Irish, hence the reference in this particular review.