The Audition – Great Danger
Victory Records (3/16/10)
Pop-rock / Pop-punk
Not that cover art is usually an accurate depiction of an album’s contents or anything, but the Evel Knievel-esque figure on the front of this, The Audition’s fourth studio album, is as far from a valid visual description of what awaits your ears as possible.
This is an album that is, straight down the line, an exercise in safe, generic pop-rock that takes little risk and pumps out the cookie-cutter dough balls of mass-market, fringe-twitching hits at maximum capacity. Then again, if you were expecting anything else, you wouldn’t be listening to The Audition in the first place, unless you were some kind of Internet predator on a research trip or a musical masochist.
“Good at what they do” is one of those phrases of dread reserved for bands that play music you hate very well, and this old cliché is still as apt as it is worn out. There are moments were it feels like tooth decay is right around the corner due to how sugary sweet some of the tracks are here, and if the mouth-rot doesn’t take you out, the muscle fatigue of consistent cringing just might.
But of course, we’re not here to harangue a very pop pop-punk band for being what they are, and this album is a solid example of the genre played out to its full commercial degree. Every track could be a shampoo advertisement or the backing track to a spot cream endorsement, thanks to the platter of hooks on offer to suck you in and never let go.
The album tilts back and forth from the cartoonish charms of Fall Out Boy’s Infinity on High-era antics to the slightly electronic and twinkling glimmer of Metro Station. For example, the second track, “The Art of Living” has that Pete Wentz & Co. bounding, big-budget feel whilst transplanting in a tiny slice of that hardcore-pop-punk intensity the kids and their fringes cry for so much right now. “He’s All You Want” asks the question no one was asking of what a song would sound like if a U2 verse was grafted onto a Paramore song with male vocals, whilst “Can You Remember” takes the Metro Station scheme of dazzling, LED-lit synth-rock-boy-band-o-rama and whacks a pop-punk chorus on it like some teenage female musical pimp-my-ride daydream.
The quintessential track of the entire album is “Honest Mistake”, with its sexed-up funk-ish freak-out rock that would make a shampoo advert blush. It could almost be described as “sassy.” In fact, the majority of the tracks here wouldn’t look out of place on some kind of grooming commercial.
As mentioned earlier, this is an album that sticks to its comfort zone like stray cat hair on velcro. It works as designed and completes its mission of providing zero-fuss, mass-market pop-rock with minimal effort, but does little else. It’s generic but very well executed and it can’t be faulted for that. It excels at what it aims to be and is unspectacular at all times—another polished, well-rounded product off the production line with the moulds intact.