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Plain White T’s – Wonders of The Younger

Plain White T's, Wonders of the Younger

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

PLAIN White T’s latest studio album Wonders of The Younger is further proof that they continue to be one of the most under-rated US bands over here in the UK.

Packed with great pop-rock songs, the album also offers more of the diversity shown on Big Bad World, while demonstrating the appeal of their big breakthrough moment, Hey There Delilah.

Or, as frontman Tom Higgenson puts it: “It’s still very much a Plain White T’s album. The songs are sincere and melodic, no matter what the subject matter. We want to create an experience that takes our fans to an unexpected place while still giving them songs to sing along to.”

Hence, there are moments of breezy sunshine pop here to rival the likes of Fountains of Wayne, as well as moments inspired by their viewing of Cirque Du Soleil and others to rival the mature pop-tinted balladry of acts such as Crowded House and I Am Arrows.

Evidence of their much bigger popularity in the States, meanwhile, is evident in the track Welcome to Mystery, which featured on the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland earlier this year.

That song, in particular, demonstrates how far the band have come since their Hey There Delilah days… mixing heightened melodicism with a mysticism and sense of wonder befitting Burton’s visionary blockbuster. It’s also vaguely trippy, in a kind of psychedelic Beatles kind of way.

At other moments, meanwhile, the band is content to deliver easy crowd-pleasing moments, such as the insanely catchy Boomerang, which hits a fantastic falsetto driven chorus, or the zippy disco pop of Map of The World, which could easily fit into an Enrique Iglesias album, mixed with Fountains of Wayne.

But if such moments feel like easy records for the Plain White T’s to put out, there are moments that really stop you in your tracks and capture your attention. Some are just alarmingly simple, but astonishingly catchy, such as the romantic pop of Rhythm of Love, which is surely destined for the soundtrack of a future movie. It’s oh-so effective and affecting.

Killer, conversely, drops a brilliantly clapped out drum beat and some lazy acoustic guitar licks over a sombre song that underlines their maturity and their ability to mix in some darker elements.

It’s rife with references to vampires, outlaws and bad deeds that make for a captivating listen (“if i was a vampire roaming the night, would you be my bait and put your neck on the line, live in the shadows and die in the light…”) and is one of the album’s outstanding cuts, complete with vocal stretches that recall Neil Finn.

Cirque Dans La Rue, meanwhile, is an ambitious brash offering that unfolds with all the spectacle and pomp of the Cirque du Soleil show that helped to inspire it. It’s rife with tempo changes, vaudeville style moments and imaginative lyrics. Think My Chemical Romance meets Broadway with sharp pop melodies thrown in.

And that’s not all to recommend this album… worth checking out, too, are the likes of Our Song, a smart little acoustic ballad, Airplane, a sombre acoustic ballad that’s about overcoming fears, and Wonders of the Younger, which rounds things off in nicely low-key, but imagery laden fashion with an homage to the fond memories of youth.

In short, then, Plain White T’s have delivered another masterful collection of songs that make for an absorbing, inspiring and enriching listen.

Download picks: Boomerang, Welcome To Mystery, Rhythm of Love, Killer, Our Song, Airplane, Cirque dans la rue, Wonders of the Younger

Track listing:

  1. Irrational Anthem
  2. Boomerang
  3. Welcome to Mystery
  4. Rhythm of Love
  5. Map of the World
  6. Killer
  7. Last Breath
  8. Our Song
  9. Airplane
  10. Cirque dans la rue
  11. Body Parts
  12. Make It Up
  13. Wonders of the Younger