Quick question: name a band that's had their first debut single reach the top 5 in the Billboard Hot 100, who has a lesser known reputation and their new debut album is going to smash the Billboard 200. Did you guess A Great Big World? Well they do fit the first three criteria, but the last part does seem to put them off the steering wheel a little bit. Bolstered by the hugely popular international single, Say Something featuring Christina Aguilera, there's no way this album can fail right? Well...
A Great Big World comprises of the duo that is Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino, with Axel being the lead singer (more or less considering what he's done for the album) and is also the pianist while Chad (and mainly both) are/is the songwriters of the album. Is There Anybody Out There is also the duo's debut album and to call it 'immediate amazing' because of one hugely successful single does off-put what the duo's potential really is. There's many, many problems that is stuck to the core of what the album is really. And many of the problems are already in hindsight of their single with Xtina, Say Something.
Firstly, Ian Axel's vocals are a large part of the problem, but it doesn't complete the full circle of what is to come. Sure, it is powerful (which can be heard on Say Something and Rockstar), but sometimes it does feel awkwardly plain, too direct and just unfitting. Along the album, Chad's vocals, although is not heard throughout as poignant as Ian's, does seem to shine through more than his partner. That seems to me as a much better option considering Ian is the pianist and both are equally talented songwriters (will get to that point). But Ian's vocals, to be flat out honest, is just not good enough.
Secondly, while the piano is mainly the core instrument on the album, the production is just incredibly wasted on this album. That's why one of my favourite tracks, Shorty Don't Wait, just shows how emphatically promising A Great Big World can be. It's just a fantastic discovery that is lined up along the likes of Land Of Opportunity, Already Home and I Really Want It that feels like filler songs, experimentation tracks that doesn't mean anything to the record on a whole. While I do know they want to make the album fun and exciting, on a whole, it doesn't make a point as one who is trying to sell the album. Hell, I don't even know if I should laugh or just remain calm to Cheer Up!'s lyrics. The album just doesn't know of it's direction and just sails in another completely, just out of notion.
Thirdly, comes the topics that the album addresses, such as Everyone Is Gay: 'If you're gay, then you're gay; don't pretend that you're straight' and so much interpolations on You'll Be Okay, I Really Want It and There Is An Answer. You may think I am nitpicking, but maybe the inspirations of the duo seems waned and faded, sometimes just crafting cheap lyrics at it's finest and just storing them in when they know their strongest has already peaked. This makes the songs tired, outdated, of what is a generic flash in the pan statement.
But, as always, not all of the lyrics are as bad as they suggest. In fact, at this moment, lyrics are what's the best for the duo when it comes to their technique. I Don't Wanna Love Somebody Else, Rockstar and of course, Say Something all show perfect qualities of the duo's strengths in crafting momentum based lyrics that builds up to this incredible peak during the choruses, as shown in their lead single. But as profound as they may be, the weak links of the album just seems to come out on top every single time.
Favourite Tracks: I Don't Wanna Love Somebody Else, Shorty Don't Wait
Least Favourite Tracks: Cheer Up!, Everyone Is Gay, This Is The New Year
Is There Anybody Out There is just a terrible mess, incomplete and downright mediocre. The album just shadows itself in a complete treble of mess and just states nothing but future potential vanished in thin wake. A Great Big World has to know that they've got good potential, but this is good potential squandered at it's very best. I wouldn't recommend the album, but if you wanna' check out the hype behind Say Something (or forward), then I say just listen to the two tracks I've listed as my favourites because, well, you'll know why.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.