Friday, September 4, 2009

Hellogoodbye - Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! - 2006

With impish attitude and effervescent tunes, Hellogoodbye's 2004 EP was quite well-received among the Warped Tour crowd. Two years later and still riding the success of those few songs, a full-length from the band feels rather overdue. Finally, that album — Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! — has arrived, but was it really worth the wait? Right away, ardent fans may be slightly disappointed at the lack of totally new songs, since versions of old demos (circulating the Internet for a while) dominate; everyone else, however, will presumably be none the wiser. On Z! A! V! D!, Hellogoodbye haven't deviated too far from the fizzy emo-pop quirks that initially drew people in. The spaz-dance blips and kitschy keyboard and programming tricks are still present; frontman Forrest Kline alternates his delivery between straight-up singing and hiding behind a vocoder. But his voice holds up well enough alone, so let's ease up on the vocoder use already, shall we? The band further asserts acoustic sensibilities, whimsical singalongs, and sparkling harmonies. The techno-ish club beats of the opening tracks lead things off mildly enough, but it's not until "All Time Lows" that the guys finally venture into the exuberant feeling of their prior EP. The jangly "Stuck to You" and "Homewrecker" creep around in late-night shadows, while the stripped-down "Oh, It Is Love" brings to mind a mandolin-playing John Mayer wearing tight jeans and a youth-sized T-shirt. Final bursts of energy kick in near the album's end before "Two Weeks in Hawaii," a song that resembles a dark, more angsty Weezer, ends things on a gloomier note. Now, while nothing on this album is bad, everything adds up to be a somewhat uneven listen when taken as a whole. The music fluctuates with a feeling that Hellogoodbye are trying to grow within the confines of their niche — but all without a firm grasp of what direction they really want to head. Despite this, Z! A! V! D! is a charming album that indeed entertains. There are hints that there is more to Hellogoodbye than just quirky antics and ProTools expertise, but until the band exactly figures out what that is, this album should do fans just fine. -AMG

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