January 28, 2019 American Authors – Seasons (Album Review)
American Authors shot to commercial popularity in 2013 via their infectious song “Best Day of My Life,” which ranked No. 1 on American Billboard’s chart of Adult Pop Songs for 2014. American Authors have since then followed up their hit single with two full-length studio albums—2014’s cheery Oh, What a Life and 2016’s equally sunny What We Live For. Now, three years after, the band is back with a more sonically mature yet equally ebullient disc.
Slated for release on February 1, 2019, on Island Records, American Authors’ third offering is a candy bag of both familiar and contemporary sounds. Simply titled Seasons, it opens with the ’80s-vibed, Electroclash hitter “Stay Around,” which will definitely draw terpsichorean feet onto the dance floor and let them stay there all night long, under the glow of the glittery mirrorball. Following in the same stylistic predisposition, “Say Amen,” however, slows the beat a bit and dims the disco lights for good romantic measure; yet the soulful sonic energy is as intense as ever. Still bathed in an R&B afterglow, “Calm Me Down” is a display of the marked evolution of the band’s music—from poppy to bluesy-rocky tendencies.
Never severing their ties to their roots, American Authors then treat the listener to the smile-pulling and foot-stomping allure of “I Wanna Go Out,” whose guitar lines and keyboard melodies, as well as rolling basslines and dancey drumbeats, are an obvious homage to their beloved single “Best Day of My Life.” After this happy song, American Authors slow down the mood with the romantic flare of “Neighborhood,” which will fit well on a playlist that includes Blue Wave songs by the likes of Coldplay (“In My Place”), Keane (“Somewhere Only We Know”), and Budapest (“Wake Up Call”).
“Can’t Stop Me Now” is a change of style and pace; it is a homage to the so-called Stadium Pop side of no other than Queen (“Don’t Stop Me Now”), complete with the piano-vocal intro, sing-along choruses, and percussive claps. And then there is the heartrending, slow and dark pastoral ballad “Deep, Deep Water.” Another feel-good, catchy track that is oozing with jovial and juvenile sensibilities plays next in the form of the banjo-filled “Bring It On Home,” continuing the band’s excursion to Pastoral Pop and which will remind the initiated of similarly styled songs like “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers, “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes, and “Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford & Sons. The aptly titled, penultimate track, “Before I Go” is another heartwarming and instrumentally remarkable future classic— cyclical acoustic guitar plucks, string orchestration, glassy piano melodies, and impassioned vocal delivery.
Finally, the 2006-forming, New York–based band—Zac Barnett (lead vocals, guitar), James Adam Shelley (lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, banjo, mandolin), Dave Rublin (bass, backing vocals, keyboards), and Matt Sanchez (drums, percussion, backing vocals)—finish off their album for all seasons with the pulsating, cascading, and undulating beauty of the rhythmic and graceful “Real Place,” which easily comes out as Season’s highlight and which will surely entrance ’80s New Wave music lovers, as it emits faint echoes and hushes of The Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town.”
Many observers claim that third albums often tend to reflect the respective bands’ jadedness and diminishing sense of melody and creativity. Sorry, but not sorry. This is certainly not the case for Seasons, which is as inspired and as well-crafted as its predecessors; if not, more engaging, confident, cohesive, and expansive. American Authors are really living up to their name; after all, weaving beautiful music is what they live for. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Seasons 5 out of 5 stars.