Island Records (label)
06 December 2010 (released)
16 January 2011
Fans of ‘Hey There Delilah’ would know Plan White T’s for their sweet, cute and sentimental pop songs. Those same who saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and thought ‘that ‘Welcome to Mystery’ song was spookily good, who was that?’ would be pleased to know that it was the new direction headed ‘Plain White T’s’. With its Sgt. Pepper style waltz, ‘Welcome to the Mystery’ was the first taste of ‘Wonders of the Younger’, the self-confessed ‘boundary pushing’ new album from Plain White T’s. But this new year, new direction might be overstating it when you press the play button.
Opening with the, less than inspired, ‘Irrational Anthem’, ‘Wonders of the Younger’ seems to be treading the same track as 2008’s ‘Big Bad World’. Stating he’ll pay the bills with his guitar, Tom Higgenson seems to want to pay the bills with just one song. Or so it might seem. As the token ‘fist in the air’ – but lacking in feeling- opener, ‘Irrational Anthem’ is apathetic in more ways than one. Yet those who would switch off, switch off at their own peril. The change of direction is waiting for them.
‘Welcome to the Mystery’ is a tone setter for the album, and it does bring a bit of edge to the image of Plain White T’s, which is, well … plain.
Yet convinced that they remain sincere to form and melodic throughout, ‘Wonders of the Younger’ still has its sentimental moments, first single ‘Rhythm of Love’ being an obvious example of this. Written after watching a Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas, guitarist Tim Lopez said “It just woke something up in me.” As a nostalgic jaunt into the realms of lovers and summers, it’s a bittersweet yet upbeat song. The very Beatles’ Penny Lane sounding, ‘Boomerang’, is another melodic pop song which gets you tapping your toes as your head goes into the clouds.
What is really interesting about this album is its eeriness. Along with ‘Welcome to the Mystery’, other tracks include ‘Killers’, a hypnotic drum march with an acoustic guitar riff creeps around your head as Tom Higgenson whispers ‘If I was a vampire…’ into your ears. ‘Broken Record’ is as fast and loud as car chase; an anthem of a girl gone missing. ‘I should have never let her go, go, go!’ This mystique seems to be inspired by the choice of décor which Higgenson chose for the studio, stating it “looks like a haunted mansion” with “gold chandeliers, red wallpaper with a gaudy fleur-de-lys pattern” it seems to inspire those dark thoughts to come out.
Overall ‘Wonders of the Younger’ sounds like a cross between Panic at the disco’s ‘A fever you can’t sweat out’ and Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’. A welcomed change in direction from 2008’s ‘Big Bad World’. An album with diverse songs and romantic yet haunting melodies. Get past the first track and you’ll be fine.