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Plain White T's - Big Bad World

Plain White T's, Big Bad World

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

PLAIN White T’s may STILL be best known for their breakthrough UK smash hit Hey There Delilah, but as anyone who bought their subsequent album Every Second Counts will know, they’re generally much more rocky than that.

Follow-up effort Big Bad World underlines their credentials as a genuinely appealing band who place a heavy emphasis on breezy alt-rock. There are EMO and frat-boy values in abundance, but it’s far from a one-trick pony and – if anything – a MUCH better album than Every Second Counts. It should bring them an ever bigger British fanbase.

Things begin well, with appealing title track announcing that it’s “a big, bad world”, and advocating a change of attitude to help make the world a better place. It’s positive without being preachy, or sentimental, and contains some great melody and a keen sense of harmonising that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Beach Boys or Fountains of Wayne record.

Having got your attention, The Plain White T’s then proceed to keep it engaged and stimulated. Natural Disaster, while certainly formulaic for this kind of American sound, retains a chirpiness that’s utterly endearing, and builds towards another strong chorus that’s designed to make you sing along.

Then comes the album’s real departure and firm highlight, Serious Mistake, which incorporates the same kind of big band elements that helped both The Beatles and – more recently – Panic At The Disco enjoy such big successes. It’s a really crowd-pleasing song and a firm favourite, complete with the odd, well-placed stab of brass.

Rainy Day should become an anthem for the British as they reflect on a water-logged summer. But it’s still upbeat, in spite of slowing the pace and indulging in some acoustic values. The strings, though, are a really nice touch – and not overstated.

There’s more Sgt Pepper and ELO-style kookiness on the disarming 1, 2, 3, 4, which could exist in a Juno world with lyrics such as “give me more loving than I’ve ever had, make it all better when I’m feeling sad” and “piece me back together when I fall apart”.

That Girl picks up the pace with a chorus of “do do do”‘s and “la la la”‘s, but it’s a summery entry and one that embraces some Weezer-like tendencies, while Sunlight resorts to acoustic, harmonic, laidback values and still manages to win you over. The chorus is particularly beautiful.

Harmonica and Footloose style guitars make welcome sound-mates on I Really Want You, another feel-good anthem, while there’s a near-perfect California sunshine vibe all over the aptly named Meet Me In California. It’s another warm, shimmering listen that sits comfortably alongside The Beach Boys for positivity of vibe.

Final track Someday maintains the positivity, wrapping some tight riffs with a calling card for the disenfranchised in lyrics such as “someday we won’t say never” and “some day we’ll all be together”. The harmony-laden chorus belts out pearls such as “what if we all could find a way to build a better life today” without ever coming close to We Are The World-style preachiness or saccharine.

In short, then, Plain White T’s have come up with a really, really, really great album that enchants, inspires and generally makes you feel a little better about the world today. And that’s no mean feat given the times we’re now facing.

Download picks: Natural Disaster, Serious Mistake, Rainy Day, 1, 2, 3, 4, Sunlight, Someday, Meet Me In California

Track listing:

  1. Big Bad World
  2. Natural Disaster
  3. Serious Mistake
  4. Rainy Day
  5. 1 2 3 4
  6. That Girl
  7. Sunlight
  8. I Really Want You
  9. Meet Me In California
  10. Someday

  1. Are you sure? Plaint White T’s? Hey There Delilah creators? Making a great album? Have you gone soft? THey’re no better than McFly dude… just from the US

    Jake    Oct 21    #