Plain White T's

rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

1. Young Tonight
2. Would You Even
3. You Plus Me
4. Fired Up
5. A Little Less Alone
6. L-O-V-E
7. Someone's Out There Waiting
8. Girl From Pasadena
9. Happy
10. Red Flags
11. Love Keeps Growing
12. Feeling (More Like) Myself
13. Spaghetti Tattoo

PLAIN WHITE T'S may be best known for their 2006 hit ballad, "Hey There Delilah", but, PLAIN WHITE T'S are certainly more than one-hit wonders. The band has been making alternative rock since 1997, and since then, they've scored two Grammy nominations and lots of platinum and gold-selling albums. Now, more than 25 years since forming, PLAIN WHITE T'S are still instrumental in the alternative pop-rock landscape, and the Chicago-based quartet are back with a new, self-titled album, continuing their story with the band's longstanding, trademark sound.

"Young Tonight" starts off the set, with acoustic guitars and Higgenson's recognizable, high-pitched voice, singing about the reality of aging but holding onto being "young tonight." As the song continues, it swells, but never really crashes into a full-fledged anthem, which seems like a missed opportunity. That's okay, though, as the subsequent song, "Would You Even", has a full-fledged, pop-punk feeling. With it's punk-leaning vibe and simple lyrics, the song resembles something like WEEZER's "Pork and Beans", and it's a good fit for the album.

The album is heavy on the slower, more intimate ballads, with "You Plus Me" and "Girl from Pasadena" being highlights. "Girl from Pasadena" sounds a bit like "Hey There Delilah 2.0", with lyrics about being infatuated with a new love found in the California city. Elsewhere, "Happy" is an upbeat, bouncy, warm-sounding song, and "Red Flags" has a title that would imply an angsty, heavy song, but instead, it's another soft ballad.

"Feeling (More Like) Myself" is perhaps the strongest song on the set, featuring a power pop vibe, a la JIMMY EAT WORLD, and warm, full sonics that draw the listener in. The record would have benefited from a few more tracks like "Feeling (More Like) Myself", as the majority of the set has a similar, mellow, acoustic vibe that would benefit from more variety.

The strongest aspect of this new PLAIN WHITE T'S album is the band's continued strength in songwriting and ability to relate to the listener. The lyrics of these songs really tell a story, often of love or, on the contrary, heartbreak, which is always a relatable theme. For those who appreciate a good story, this new album is a winner.

Author: Anne Erickson
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