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Plain White T's - American Nights (Review)

Plain White T's, American Nights

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

AMERICAN Nights, the latest album from Plain White T’s, marks the US band’s first independent release since 2001 and is pretty much a celebration of all the good things that come with listening to them.

It’s an album, by the band’s own admission, about freedom and looking back while still moving forward. It’s also their most collaborative release yet, with three of the band members contributing their own songs to the track list.

The ensuing LP is an often bright and breezy listen that puts a smile on your face and pretty much keeps it there throughout. But then these are the guys whose back catalogue includes Hey There Delilah (the 18th most downloaded song of all time), Rhythm of Love and 1, 2, 3, 4.

Highlights here include former single Pause, which drops a sharp set of melodies and lyrics that are tailor-made for chanting along with, whether it’s the catchy chorus of “I’m going to push pause and call time out” or the returning “uh oh uh oh uh oh” harmonies. It’s an easy hook, admittedly, but it’s tellingly effective when done correctly and it neatly offsets the bittersweet content of the lyrics.

Title track American Nights gets things off to a flyer, too, amid hand-clap beats and acoustic strums and lyrics that recall classic tales of Americana. It’s an indie-pop alternative to the likes of Springsteen and company that benefits from its more breezy disposition.

Another highlight is Heavy Rotation, which even rises from a ponderous “oh Jackie” start to deliver a chugging central guitar riff, more of those handclap beats and another gem of a chorus (“she’s got friends in heavy rotation on the radio”). It’s a masterful example of how Plain White T’s can deliver an effortlessly catchy song.

Their ability to write a solid ballad, too, is also evident on the suitably moody heartbreaker Stay or the naively hopeful Love Again, which emerges as a classy cross between Jack Johnson-style acoustic-pop and classic (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay (which even boasts some terrific shots of banjo and mandolin).

And then there’s the shamelessly celebratory tracks, such as the “whoah who” laden Dance Off Time (which should have you shuffling to the dance-floor from the very first note) or the brass-backed finale of Here Come That Sunrise, which is shot through with infectious positivity (and even a classic American rock vibe).

And that’s not forgetting to mention the classy mood-ballad of Someday You’re Gonna Love Me (which combines anguish with more hope) and the toe-tapping charmer You Belong.

All told, American Nights is an album to celebrate. It’s a cracking listen – simply delivered, yes, but oh-so effective.

Download picks: American Nights, Pause, Heavy Rotation, Dance Off Time, Here Come That Sunrise, Someday You’re Gonna Love Me, Love Again

Track listing:

  1. American Nights
  2. Pause
  3. Never Working
  4. Heavy Rotation