Review Summary: Let us meditate on this album before Simpson's predicted attempt at hip hop in the coming years
No one really predicted that “Down Down Down”, the first single to be taken from Young Pilgrim
, would actually be the success on the UK singles charts that it was this past spring. Okay, seriously: swathed in 'woo hoo-oo-oo' vocal harmonies, containing lines like “My heart swells to the size of an orchard” (or 'orchid' could be the word sung there, not sure), and Charlie Simpson's horrendous lyrical collision of his own relationship woes with the needs of the world – or something like that. Yeah, right
. Yet, behold: it sold well, and if my Wiki
isn't lying to me, second follow-up single “Parachutes”, a sugar cookie that's solely indebted to the pop stylings of Fightstar
's “Never Change”, “Mercury Summer”, or “Tonight We Burn”, is doing even better than the prior single.
Baffling. Because well listening to these songs gives you the impression that they would all tank in the market and in context of this review tank on record, not actually bump sides with three-month-old Lady Gaga
singles scaling the upper-hand 40s and 50s landings of the charts – or one-month-old Gaga, in the case of “Parachutes”. Simpson sounds unforgivably melancholic and worn-thin by the woes of, uh, too much success or something, making sure those attentive know it all throughout Young Pilgrim
, but going about it in all the wrong ways.
In the instrumentally bare acoustics of “Sundown”, Simpson flaunts his 'weak' heart so carelessly and forthright that it's nauseating: “I'll just throw a stone into the wishing well or walk down to the water's edge and push me into the swell. . . . I don't think I drank enough to make your face go away,” he croons weakly into his drink, head in hands. And in what may be one of the most embarrassing songs we'll likely hear this year, “Farmer & His Gun”, get this: Simpson compares himself and his life's situation to a rabbit running from a 'farmer and his gun', all psuedo-western like instrumentally – harmonica fill-ins and Paisley-esque acoustic minor chords galore. Not to be easily usurped by the latter though, “Thorns” finds the weary songwriter singing about essentially, well, nothing: roses, English weather (haha), and his love-sick, beating, empty heart of course. Get this shi
t out of there.
's intent of being an artistic extension for Simpson actually sounds like a beat-up and bruised Fightstar
, settings fully set on Be Human
. The aforementioned “Parachutes”, as stated, is an early forewarning of Simpson's dabbing in his own past as frontman of his post-Busted
project, but continuing further on reveals that the aping by this pilgrim just gets worse and worse. Third song “All At Once” unceremoniously and obviously jacks the “Mercury Summer” chorus melody – just switch the lyrics of the two songs, trust me. It's an easy fit. And wearing like a badge-of-honor Simpson's best Justin Vernon
vocal raping, “Hold On” pairs pretty yet unwanted omnipresent vocal harmonies with a direct shot at the melodies of “A City On Fire”, minus the distortion. “Suburbs” is yet another Be Human
of choruses conglomerations, and closer “Riverbanks” reeks in mood and layout of Fightstar's classic “Mono” and not-so-classic “Follow Me Into the Darkness”, both songs that start slow and go all BOOM
What will prove to be ironic about Young Pilgrim
's reception is that most critics will likely not take Simpson seriously here, at least initially: He's done the Busted
-pop thing, the quality yet pseudo-post-hardcore of Fightstar
thing, and now he wants the credibility of all
aspiring artists in the music business, of course; the singer-songwriter thing. But Young Pilgrim
is just as poppy as Busted
ever was, contains the weak and just plain odd lyrics of both that boy band and Fightstar
, and flamboyantly rapes the latest work of the latter under a wearisome, despondent guise. A desperate attempt at an artistic extension, you say? Err, no
. Young Pilgrim
is just the sound of Charlie Simpson running around in his own artistic circles, going nowhere and repeating his past over and over again.