It's all over in only 35 minutes or so, but Plain White T's have put together a charming, effortless sounding collection of 10 songs that will make any pop music loving fan's heart beat fast. Every track is a keeper and will have you singing along the first time through. Emo and punk pop pretensions are tossed aside in favor of classic pop structure and instrumentation that works as perfect ear candy.
Plain White T's Follow a Massive Hit Without Blinking
"Hey There Delilah" was such a massive worldwide hit, Plain White T's would be forgiven if they tried either to self-consciously repeat the formula of "Hey There Delilah" or took a turn in an entirely different direction to avoid comparisons. Fortunately, Big Bad World sounds as if the band took their success effortlessly in stride and simply went back to the studio to record great pop songs. "1,2,3,4" has a similar sweetness to "Delilah," but there are no songs here that come close to a soundalike.
Influences Worn on the Sleeve
The band's pop influences here are proudly worn on their sleeves. The specter of power pop geniuses Weezer and Fountains of Wayne are ever-present in the tight song structure and clever lyrics. The baroque pop of the Beatles informs "Serious Mistake" and there are obvious echoes of Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde classic "I Want You" on "I Really Want You." Cozying up to the best in pop music history is a risky thing, but with humor and subtle chutzpah Plain White T's pull it off here.
Top Tracks on 'Big Bad World'
- "Big Bad World"
- "Serious Mistake"
- "That Girl"
- "Meet Me in California"
One of the Top Pure Pop Albums of the Year
Straightforward pop music really doesn't get much better than this. The band deliberately used instruments that would have been available before 1970 and recorded the songs live in the studio to provide an intimacy rare in music by most of today's top recording artists. The classic song structure means each track has an engaging bridge and chord changes bring the tunes to a satisfying climax. There are imperfections due to the live in the studio performances, but even then it's an effect of adding to the charm of the recording. This is simply one of the top pop records of the year.