Gavin DeGraw
Sweeter


1.5
very poor

Review

by Irving Tan STAFF
September 23rd, 2011 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I don't want to be anything other than me!

In an ideal world, the mechanics of reviewing an album are as simple and elegant as the act of listening to that album itself: press “Play”, the CD starts to spin, and slightly over an hour later one has a rough visualization of where that album might lie on a one-to-five rating scale. Only one dependent variable should matter: the amount of pure enjoyment that one derives from the mere act of listening to the album. Under those rules, an album’s final score would always be directly proportional to its entertainment value, which honestly sounds like a perfectly fair arrangement. In such a closed system, Gavin DeGraw’s Sweeter would in no way be a disappointment; in fact, it would probably be just about great. End of discussion.

But sadly, it hardly ever is that easy. In fact, Sweeter ends up passing by in a haze of indifference because, even though it has all the gilded sheen of a pop product engineered and marketed to perfection, at its core it is trite, grossly unmemorable, and unmistakably insincere – even by vanilla pop’s relatively shallow standards. Chief among the issues here is DeGraw’s own image. In a world swamped by similar-sounding, cookie-cutter acts (random bit of trivia: I discovered while doing research for this review that DeGraw apparently hangs out with Maroon 5 and Train each time he is in New York; birds of a feather flock together, anyone?), DeGraw remains to us that faceless white dude with music-school chops, a beige tweed hat, and the obligatory acoustic guitar - even though it has already been a full eight years since the release of his debut album, Chariot. In other words, DeGraw constantly seems to emit the kind of perpetually ubiquitous presence that simply makes it hard to bother with him any longer than is necessary.

Worse, the artist himself has also remained stubbornly insistent on not shaking things up a little musically. Opening track “Sweeter” introduces itself with an all too-familiar series of jangly guitars and faux hand claps, just before DeGraw begins: “You, you don’t know how lucky you are/With that girl on your arm,” he croons, exhibiting the sort of casual prosaism that sounds terribly shallow whenever it comes from a man pushing the wrong side of thirty. Even from a distance, it genuinely seems like DeGraw doesn’t mean a word that he’s saying. And to make things worse, it feels like the man himself knows it as well. Elsewhere, first single, “Not over You” suffers from excessively wordy verses and repeated instances of over-singing, resulting in the sort of failed attempt at pop bombast that is almost impossible to endure. Somewhat fortuitously for DeGraw however, the song does have the sort of soft, wallpaper appeal that will undoubtedly endear it to the folks in charge of preparing those endlessly looping shopping mall playlists.

The latter half of the album isn’t much better either: “You Know Where I’m At” sounds like a cheap imitation of a James Blunt cut (which is definitely saying something in terms of how contrived this sounds) and even the song that makes the most overt attempt at reinvigoration – “Radiation” – sounds terminally starved of actual joy. The dripping "Where You Are", while decently arranged, is the sort of twanging ballad that has been done a thousand times over. Of the lot, only “Stealing”, which has perhaps the best lyrical turn of phrase of the entire album (“Cause we had a good time/Then it was sorrow/I call it stealing/You call it borrow”), and whose momentum is backed by pensive piano riffs swooping under the main melody, might be considered as a highlight.

If there’s a defining thread to this whole affair, it’s that all this isn't really anything new. Even if all you’ve heard of DeGraw are his breakout singles of “Chariot” and “I Don’t Want To Be” from his debut album, chances are you’ll still find the stuff on Sweeter pretty familiar, but in the worst sort of way. When it comes to creating an album, there are a multitude of factors – apart from pitch-perfect presentation – that need considering; but, not unlike a ninth grade student who discovers the harsh realities of the laws of friction and gravity for the first time during his maiden run at the local science fair, this time around Gavin DeGraw has simply forgotten to account for them all.



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user ratings (13)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Luke Barratt (2)
This isn't very good....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7289 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I can't tell this guy apart from Daniel Powter. Both produce the same yowling garbage. Fuck me.

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


16021 Comments


yeah this is that guy who had that song and has been terrible since

Digging: Yellowcard - Lift a Sail

AtavanHalen
September 23rd 2011


17927 Comments


YOU HAD A BAD DAY

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


16021 Comments


Also, your "Fuck me." distinctly reminds me of how I felt about 3 Doors Down

AtavanHalen
September 23rd 2011


17927 Comments


WILL YOU STILL CALL ME SUPERMAN

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


6448 Comments


You're on a roll with reviewing lately, mr. Irving!

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7289 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Also, your "Fuck me." distinctly reminds me of how I felt about 3 Doors Down

BELIEVE ME it was exactly how I felt. I swear this is going to be the last crap album I review for a while. I'll treat myself to excellent - or at least good - music next.

Also this review is...how shall I say it...not very good. I don't want to make excuses but I simply couldn't be arsed to write any more, despite my overwhelming desire to contribute to Sputnik. UGH.

YouGotLucky
September 23rd 2011


946 Comments


Wow terribly low rating. Is it that bad?

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7289 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

It's actually worse mate.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


3403 Comments


This dude's really bad, can't listen more than a minute. pos

Digging: The Asteroid No. 4 - The Asteroid 4

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7289 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks man. Stay away from this album.

Tyrael
September 23rd 2011


20879 Comments


Good review

Having an album like this on constant repeat is how I imagine hell would be like

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7289 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Agreed. Also I think that the brimstone guardians of the place would make us constantly have to write positive reviews of the album. Oh the horror!

TheVoiceAndTheSnake
September 23rd 2011


3663 Comments


Someone gave this a 4?

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7289 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Um...yeah.

pizzamachine
September 23rd 2011


12571 Comments


Great review Ving (goes without saying)!

AtavanHalen
September 23rd 2011


17927 Comments


YEA MY GIRLFRIEND

wabbit
September 23rd 2011


7000 Comments


" Only one dependent variable should matter: the amount of pure enjoyment that one derives from the mere act of listening to the album." I really disagree with this. There are album's that aren't "enjoyable" that are still excellent albums.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7289 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

^ Um yeah that would fall outside the jurisdiction of the ideal world.

Still, I see your point: my introductory paragraph didn't actually have pristine execution.

Also, Atavan - you're energetic today!

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2011


16021 Comments


atavan you are never around anymore

or im just on here too much



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