Review Summary: On Your Side can be likened to a good-looking horse that makes it out of the gate and runs pretty fast, but halfway through the race wanders off the track to visit the hall of fame and see what techniques he can pinch from those who came before.
Down in the land of Australia, summertime is approaching us rather quickly, and so in my desperation to find some music to play with my windows down and the sun shining, I went band-searching on the interwebs. And in doing so I happened to stumble upon a little album called On Your Side
by Massachusetts boys A Rocket To The Moon. At first, I was enthralled, and remained so for quite a while. It was catchy, fun, and there were a few songs that stuck in my brain for a number of days, but after the fervour faded off I was able to take a little more objective stance and see the album for what it is – a mostly unoriginal but easy-to-listen blend of pop rock music.
On Your Side
has a number of good qualities to it. The first is that the thing is loaded with hooks, and you will sing along for at least the first few run-throughs. ‘Life of the Party’ (possibility of some sort of drumming machine aside) is one of the top two songs of the album, a fantastic, incredibly memorable diatribe against a backstabbing girl. Stabbing power chords punctuate the song but what makes it – and the album in general – stand out from the million pop punk bands in existence is that you can notably hear the acoustic guitar. It provides a sound that makes the album lighter than many other pop punk records out there while retaining their ability to be exciting and catchy. Lead single ‘Annabelle’ does follow pop punk format, admittedly, but makes up for it with an amusing viciousness. ‘Mr. Right’ and ‘Give A Damn’ are the most prominent followers of the ‘how the heck is this so catchy’ theme, but most of the album retains some sort of hook that defines each song.
It’s not overloaded with either ballads or upbeat rockers, either. Thankfully, it mixes a bit of both into the final product the whole way through and comes out the better for it. The ballads can drop off a bit, and are probably the weaker side of On Your Side
, but I’ll be damned if ‘Like We Used To’ isn’t one of the most honest and heartfelt regret songs I’ve heard this year. It might just be me, or maybe the fact that the lead singer apparently has some sort of crush on Taylor Swift (no joke), but the country tinge to it does imitate Miss Swift a little too much. ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ is pretty forgettable, as is the title track that closes out the album, but ‘Dakota’ salvages the ballads from total failure with a group effort on backup vocals singing the obligatory ‘ba dum dum’ lines that few pop albums these days escape without.
The trouble with On Your Side
is that the album doesn’t really have any of its own soul behind it. The acoustic elements of ARTTM do manage to elevate them above the oceans of mediocrity, but The Maine, The Summer Set and other such bands could probably have played ninety percent of the material on here to the same effect. ‘Give A Damn’s chorus is probably lawsuit material for Evan and Jaron who played ‘Crazy For This Girl’ (a song that became popular via a Dawson’s Creek appearance). Nick Santino, the lead singer and songwriter, doesn’t escape bands that have been bigger and come before him, and unfortunately he doesn’t seem to see it. You could compare it to a less mature version of the All-American Rejects if you crossed them with a MUCH less mature Matchbox Twenty. And then threw in some Taylor Swift for flavour.
Theme-wise, On Your Side
isn’t diverse. At all. The main cause of this is that every single song on OYS
is about a girl, and most of these girls are ones that have either hurt Nick or ones that Nick thinks aren’t good enough for him. He comes off at times as pretentious and arrogant, which I suppose isn’t too far off many singers in the business, but it can get on a listener’s nerves. The lyrics are average except in the case where Santino shoots back at the aforementioned girls, where he writes barbs that would make a rhinoceros bleed. This does only contribute to him coming off as a jerk, admittedly, but interviews with him suggest that’s fairly close to accurate anyway.
A Rocket To The Moon have a long way to go to distinguish themselves, and quite honestly it doesn’t seem like they’ll make it. There’s no real hint that Santino has any desire to be different from the crowd, and in some cases that’s okay, but it holds On Your Side
back from being anything more than a good album which you might replay at the first hints of summer. If nothing else, On Your Side
can be likened to a good-looking horse that makes it out of the gate and runs pretty fast, but halfway through the race wanders off the track to visit the hall of fame and see what techniques he can pinch from those who came before.
Life of the Party, Annabelle, Like We Used To