Review Summary: A fun summer album with a few drawbacks
Tilian Pearson of Dance Gavin Dance fame clearly has very good timing. We are living in a time when we all wish we could Factory Reset the world to a few years ago, the sun is shining, and the summer is just around the corner to get the party started again. And much like the popular guy who’s the life of the party, Tilian strolls in at just the right time to provide the entertainment and the fun. He’s a snappy dresser too, if the music video for Anthem is anything to go by.
Fun is very much the theme of this album. This is an album that you could imagine playing in your car while cruising along on a sunny day. Lyrical themes are overall about being positive and wanting to “live your best life”, for want of a better phrase. There is general optimism in Holy Water, which encourages that you ‘Don't sing a song of perfect sadness / Don't glorify these waking dreams / Don't give a voice to all that withers / Don't satisfy these vacant themes / Sing songs of purpose’. There is a desire to be happy in Dose, saying ‘We'll dose away the blues’. And there is living in the moment in Anthem, where Tilian proudly sings that he is ‘Living in the minute, never chasing up a phantom’. It makes a nice change from the potentially dark and introspective lyrics with other bands that he has worked with.
There is musical variety too, ensuring that you are never bored; from light rock in Dose and All I Crave Is Peace to straight up pop songs in Anthem and Caught In The Carousel to R&B with auto tuned vocals in the title track Factory Reset.
Not that Tilian needs them, of course. His voice is still as impressive as ever and lends itself well to all genres, including pop. He would not be out of place in a song with any number of singers topping the charts these days (The Weeknd comes to mind). There is also variety in his singing style, with a more emotional approach in some songs and more laid back in others. You can tell that he is putting effort into his songs and having a good time doing it. The clear production helps to accentuate this also, with bouncing melodies in the pop songs and even audible bass in the more rocky tracks for Tilian to flex his vocal muscles over.
Having said this, there are some minor issues I have. Firstly, the album is a little on the short side. At just over 35 minutes, I was left wanting a lot more; especially considering that what could have been potentially the best song Breathe is cut down to merely an interlude. I really felt like it was going somewhere and building up to something. The layered vocals also made it stand out from the rest of the songs. But it just stops at 1 minute and 30 seconds in, leaving me more than a little disappointed.
I also have an issue with the swearing in this album. I am by no means against it when used to convey strong emotions or to prove a point, but the fact that he uses it in the more laid-back songs makes me think that he just threw them in there to be cool, almost. It doesn’t really add anything to these songs, and I would argue that it slightly ruins the relaxed flow that he is trying to convey. It almost works in the final song Hands Around My Throat but I would still say that it could have been left out of most tracks here.
Finally, despite this mostly being a fun summer album, there is one darker track here in the form of Is Anarchy A Good Hobby. I personally don’t think that the lyrics about switching your mind off because you’re ‘in love with the pain’ or the dark backing vocals in this song really fit with the overall theme of the album (or that similar dark vocals are really necessary at the end of the title track Factory Reset), but that might just be me.
At the end of the day, this album is like the popular guy at the party. Well presented, entertaining, and all-round fun but leaves you wanting more and at times tries a little too hard in an attempt to be cool. But for all its drawbacks, it’s still a fun album and well worth a listen. Just be sure to enjoy the party while it lasts.