Review Summary: Trite pop music with catchy hooks is forgivable, but when it’s this poorly executed, there’s just no excuse.
Hey Monday has always been Paramore’s adorable little sister. Both female-fronted bands indulge in pop-punk’s cliches; but in most circles Paramore comes out as the clear musical victor before the discussion inevitably turns into a “Who’s Hotter??!?”
contest, Cassadee Pope or Hayley Williams (Cassadee Pope is the answer, by the way)? Originally, Hey Monday planned to crown Cassadee pop-punk princess supreme with a scorching hot 2010 summer full-length, but thankfully it was shaved down to a 6-song EP. If these 6 are the best material the Floridians have to offer, I did not
want to hear the other 8. On Beneath It All
, Hey Monday sounds much more Kelly Clarkson than they do Paramore, and I mean that in the absolute worst way possible.
Inherently, Kelly Clarkson is fairly enjoyable. She’s got spunk. She reminds me of that older sister who’s perpetually oblivious of how annoying she is, yet insists on buying you beer to impress your friends anyway. This comes out spectacularly in her music, and she’s got the pipes to make a genuine impression as well. Before I ramble on about Kelly Clarkson for half the review, let me explain how this relates to Hey Monday, and moreso, to Beneath It All.
The band’s debut was a poppy romp that had no qualms with being overtly sweet and catchy. The sincerity with which Hey Monday created Hold On Tight
was endearing, and it almost made up for the lackluster product. It almost
made the moderate success they enjoyed from Hold On Tight
among adoring teenage fangirls and BallsToTheWall warranted.
That is, until, Beneath It All EP
. You see, the success and riches Hey Monday garnered eventually led to their present-day demise, a killingly-sweet, cheesy affair you’d be better off not knowing exists. Hooks, hooks, and more hooks is the formula Hey Monday decided upon, and in effect Beneath It All
dropped the punk from pop-punk. “Mr. Pushover” is probably the most putrid example of this, with contrived lyrics to match. Try reading the oh-so-clever wordplay without cringing, ”They're on to me / The haters are hating / The haters, they hate me / Lovers are loving /But the lovers, they hate me too,”
much less actually listen to Cassadee sing it. In the end though, I probably would have forgiven Hey Monday for contrived lyrics, it’s the production that pushes Beneath It All
completely over the edge. New assets for Hey Monday apparently means more production to the max. The EP is the definition of over-produced with songs “Wondergirl” and “I Don’t Wanna Dance” successfully obliterating any sense of intrigue or subtlety Hey Monday used to embody. Thankfully, Cassadee’s voice is still front-and-center, even if it sounds like a more lackluster Kelly Clarkson. The comparison is easy to make, especially since the uncanny resemblance is heightened by a shared faux-attitude, like Avril Lavigne with a tad more sense. Pope’s vocals are undeniably uninspired, though, as “Mr. Pushover,” contender for worst song I’ve heard this year, serves as the epitome of her lack of range.
The nicest comment I can make about Beneath It All
is the inconsistency. Sandwiched between the garbage you can find “Where Is My Head” and “Wish You Were Here,” two songs that show a cinch of imagination in the melody department. Still, Beneath It All
is entirely smothered by the production. Trite pop music with catchy hooks is forgivable, but when it’s this poorly executed, there’s just no excuse.