Review Summary: Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
What happened to Boston band American Authors post their 15 minutes of fame they achieved in mass abundance from their abysmal, lifeless alternative hit "Best Day of My Life" is nothing short of the literal phrase, "you've have had your 15 minutes of fame". They came and went in an absolute heartbeat, right after that horrifically mainstream radio sensation passed on by and a highly rushed, undeveloped debut album that shortly followed, they dissipated quickly under the radar once again as if they never even existed. The phrase that has been coined on many occasions when it comes to artists or bands of this certain situation, "one hit wonder", couldn't have been more proven with this indie-pop band than it is now. Being quietly signed to the undoubtedly pop-oriented Island Records while disappearing from the eyes of the mainstream masses, they've gone as low as being the headlining act for this year's Walmart shareholders event, just to ensure that their relevance is kept in shape, despite the literal fact that it is completely nonexistent. Now, only two years after frustrating the world with their morbid, deceased debut "Oh, What A Life", they've decided a much-needed and critical comeback is in dire desperation of being completed to secure themselves of their vitality post-Best Day of My Life fame. Therefore, from the day forward in which they decided to christen it, American Authors publishes their despised sophomore release "What We Live For" as it slithers into the music spectrum to consume the bodies and souls of anyone who dare gives it a single chance at the hopes redemption was redeemed. Hath not, did that redemption ever come to be in absolute formality.
What shattered their disgustingly generic and radio-pleasing debut into infinite oblivion was how incredibly boring their sound was, because it didn't lack any sort of scope nor did it breathe in any sort of sonic distinction either. Unfortunate reality in it all is that in "What We Live For", a fitting title for a band that seems to live for delivering more of the same bad excursions rather than transport us to somewhere refreshing, is that more of the same and worse comes to you like a lighting bolt striking you at high voltage. It couldn't be more highlighted in its sheer terror than it displays itself in the lame, uninspiring "Nothing Better", fixated underneath a folksy, cringeworthy banjo that is blended morbidly with the screechy pitch of frontman Zac Barnett's kiddish vocals, this feels like a sad attempt of replicating their one-time mega hit. Masking Barnett's vocals a tad bit and mash it with yet another basic, elastic hook that is supposed to give off a uplifting, motivating feel in your bones doesn't even begin to showcase the polar opposite, as you're left to cringe and devour yourself in face-palms galore. Lyrically-awful lines that are void of any mere thought like "I don't believe it's true/there's nothing better than you" feel as if you could simply write this entire song yourself and slap it on as your own, because it's so generically basic and thoughtless that anybody could emulate exactly what these guys are simulating. Even worse is how they happened to have used the same chord progression and key from their hopelessly romantic journey in "Nothing Better", to only draw themselves another supposedly "distinctive" pump-up anthem in the minor "hit", the ironically-titled "Go Big Or Go Home"! How distinctive is that right? Not even close, as it is divulged in utter masculinity over yet another dorky, horrendous banjo solo and clasping, disappointing drums over how to live life to the fullest. Sound familiar to their one-time hit once again? It couldn't be more true, but they really stumble upon down a hilarious, absolutely comedic road when they pencil in laugh-out-loud lines like "the dice will roll/and then we lost control/you know we're lucky that we even survived" that are supposed to speak YOLO vibes all over, but instead speak ironically about how their career is currently at right now in this very moment. Dead-on hilarious as it could ever be.
The chances of finding anything that isn't scarily bad within the first few moments that you're perched on any of these livid, dreadful excursions is slim to none in this haunting, just terrible outing you're forced to digest. The only selection in which is at least voided away from its awful accountability is the semi-rock/dance jam "Mess With Your Heart", that is infinitely by far their best piece of work to date overall, and that's a stretch considering the immense amount of work they've written has been bad, to say the least. Bristled in emotive, colored banjo hues with a slight mixture of ultraviolet synths and mechanical, stomping bass lines, Barnett and his band tread along sad, yet hopeful lines of how someone is trying to ensure their beloved that everything's gonna be okay. It's a quick but dreadfully short release from the psychological madness that you descend to all the way through, right into its buried, deceased end. The definitive that you recover from in American Authors' "What We Live For" is that they're enjoying themselves, and only themselves it seems, as they force us into a bloated, album-filler nightmare that is perfumed heavily in rustic, deathly material that leaves us gasping for air at the very end of it. As quickly as this band rose to stardom over one massively commercial hit, man did they stumble down as low as they could ever fall towards to in just a short matter of time. Falling down as quickly as they had rosen.