Review Summary: The Script stick to the script. Next time, they should ad-lib more.
The term “guilty pleasure” really is a misnomer. Isn’t one guilty of enjoying everything you deem pleasurable? And why should one feel guilty over something they derive pleasure from? Semantics aside, the term usually refers to something a person enjoys which is critically – if not necessarily popularly – derided. If this is the case, then The Script’s self-titled debut LP was a guilty pleasure for almost two million people worldwide! Not bad for a couple of Irish boy-band rejects, who also bided their time by working as engineers and producers in LA. The Script may have appeared to be an overnight success back in 2008, but in truth they were anything but that. And it is this fact which has seen the trio well and truly home in on consolidating their target audience on follow-up LP ‘Science & Faith’… Even if that makes for a rather tired retread of a release.
For those unaware; The Script play pop-rock with a twist. The curve-ball comes in the fusion of styles provided by the band’s greatest strength; lead vocalist Danny O’Donoghue. The front-man has the ability to smoothly transition from brisk verses to soulful choruses in a heartbeat, integrating a contemporary R&B feel into what is essentially straight-forward guitar-driven pop. A good indication of their sound comes in the form of opener ‘You Won’t Feel A Thing’; a cut about overcoming adversity, which owes more than a little to fellow Irishmen U2. Lead single ‘For the First Time’ follows, beginning with sparse acoustics, before moving into more of the same. Most will find both this and infectious highlight ‘If You Ever Come Back’ too corny, but it is the relatable - verging on spoken-word delivery of - narratives such as “drinkin’ on cheap bottles of wine, $hit talkin’ up all night” and “I wish you could give me the cold shoulder. And I wish you could still give me a hard time. And I wish I could still wish it was over” that is The Script’s bread and butter.
If you could not tell from the song titles on ‘Science & Faith’, those aforementioned lyrics should suggest what the dominant theme of the album is; relationship troubles and break-ups… Over and over again… To the point where it simply gets too much and begins to drag the listening experience down. A case could be made that almost all of the songs are fine in isolation (‘Science & Faith’ may even be a touch more consistent than their debut), but it gets rather tiresome as a whole. Not helping matters is the fact that only two of the ten tracks included here are under the four minute mark; usually a no-no when it comes to a pop album. While the latter half of the LP does attempt variety in the form of the Sting-like ‘This = Love’ (which includes a rapped breakdown) and the mish-mash of strings, a hip-hop refrain and the band’s standard pop-rock that is ‘Dead Man Walking’, it comes as too little too late and not entirely convincing anyway.
As previously mentioned, The Script know their target audience and have clearly decided that ‘Science & Faith’ is aimed at those people. The uncertainty of their own future which pushed the band to greater heights on their debut LP is all but gone here, leaving an album full of safe tracks that may well be primed for radio airplay, but lacks the imagination, variety and standouts of its predecessor. If likeable and competent pop-rock full of moderately catchy choruses is what you are after, then look no further than ‘Science & Faith’. However, while the detractors of both the band and the genre as a whole will bellow “I told you so”, The Script have shown they are capable of much better. This is The Script sticking to the script. Next time around, maybe they should ad-lib a little more.
Recommended Tracks: If You Ever Come Back, You Won’t Feel A Thing & This = Love.