Review Summary: Three hit singles and pretty much nothing else on this lazy, uninspired & disappointing follow-up.
There is a nice interplay between the titles of Evermore’s first two full-length releases; ‘Dreams‘ and ‘Real Life’. When starting out, it is indeed a “dream” for a band to become successful. When they finally do, they must settle into the “real life” of building a career out of their chosen vocation. Unfortunately for this pop-rock trio from New Zealand, the meanings of their album titles run deeper than that, with the debut being an ambitious & interesting offering, while the follow-up is a lazy single-centric LP that is full of short-cuts.
While achieving mild critical acclaim and respectable sales figures, ‘Dreams’ obviously was not enough for Evermore and/or their record label. And the best way for a young band to establish a larger fanbase is to have a smash hit single that becomes over-played to tedious levels. In the case of ‘Real Life’, all that energy is put into three differing tracks, which are clearly the highlights of the album.
With its hooky opening guitar chord, lead single ‘Running’ is a song that U2 would be proud to call their own. Including subtle background strings and deceptively catchy vocals, there is something alluringly atmospheric about this mid-tempo cut that makes it a winner. 3rd single ‘Unbreakable’ is the rockiest track on the LP, with its straight-forward up-tempo vibe recalling another British band in Snow Patrol. Sandwiched in between is the Australasian #1 hit ballad ‘Light Surrounding You’, which was seemingly whored out to every television series imaginable at the time of its release. A rather stock-standard polished pop-rock ballad, it is likeable & inoffensive without setting the world on fire. Think Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’ and you wouldn’t be too far away.
And then there is the rest of the album… In a word, it can be summed up as “lazy”. For an up and coming band that showed almost too much ambition on debut, the lack of anything even approaching interesting on the remaining nine tracks is extremely disappointing. Whether the track is of the by-the-numbers mid-tempo variety, or of the slow-motion piano-ballad kind, everything is uninspired and rather boring. The only other song that shows any hint of ambition is the strange & theatrical acoustic opener, which ill-fittingly suggests a concept album.
Evermore’s ‘Real Life’ is one of those releases that has simply been manufactured for mass consumption and establishing a greater fanbase for the band. With its three hit singles, it was no surprise that it sold strongly and charted highly. However, even fans of the band would have to be disappointed with the end results. Lazy and uninspiring, it is a genuine disappointment from a band that is capable of much better.
Recommended Tracks: Running & Unbreakable.