Indie Pop, 2018
Is it praise or condemnation that the songs in lovelytheband’s debut studio album would feel right at home in a One Direction album?
Mind you, the best track here, Broken, is a curious song that seems to have borrowed heavily the hooks and riffs from Foster the People’s Pump Up Kicks and Katy Perry’s Hot N Cold with an intro that sounds a lot like it’s from MGMT’s kids. This one isn’t about shooting down school kids or commitment issues, though – it’s something more heartfelt and even inspirational as it’s about two damaged people finding solace in one another. I probably shouldn’t adore something with such suspect lineage, but I can’t help it – the way vocalist Mitchy Collins sings “makes me a fool” here gives me an involuntary delighted shiver.
The rest of Finding It Hard to Smile is of the same indie pop vein, the downside being that these songs lack the instantly catchy, possibly borrowed melodies of better songs. Even when these guys are making brooding, sad songs, these songs are still bathed in a bright and sunny kind of pop beat. These are exactly the kind of songs hipster bands make to chronicle disgustingly cute love stories of geeky guys and manic pixie girls, kind of like a John Green novel for grownups. Needless to say, people who call themselves fan of a purist brand of rock will likely recoil in disgust even as fans of Walk the Moon, Foster the People, and such would just as likely embrace lovelytheband to their bosoms.
It’s a shame, though, that aside from Broken, the rest of the songs here are merely a middling kind of pleasant. It was as if these guys put all their collective brilliance into that one track, and had only intestinal gas left for the rest when they realized that they had to fill an entire album with tracks that aren’t Broken. Therefore, I’d suggest that folks who like Broken buy that song and then check YouTube or some other place to find out whether they’d like the other songs first. Finding It Hard to Smile isn’t a consistent album of songs that should be blindly purchased in one go.