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Plain White T's

At their best Plain White T’s resemble Dada, especially the harmonies, though the voices don’t quite blend.  The first three songs require no additional equipment to enjoy.  No waiting around for the song to grow on you, no assembly required.  The pacing is swift and sounds as good as any radio-ready relationship rock out there. The singing is generally adequate for the style, if occasionally grating.  The guitar-work shows real promise.  As catchy as the music is, I was surprised to be hanging on for so long.  Once I accepted the pop element of it, the music slowed and the vocals started to show through.  The name says it all, these boys are plain white.  The songs are arranged in descending order from best to worst.  The remainder of the album seems dedicated to the same heartbreak.  They’re hurting, ladies.  Better grab these sensitive guys while you can, they need your love to keep them warm.  But if you think they’re going to get over it, take note of the repetition inhabiting their stunted lyrics. 

The chunking guitars on “Stop” bring to mind Sponge, if anyone recalls that “alternative” outfit.  Tom Higginson’s pained vocals are tempered by the mainstream rocking.  “Please Don’t Do This” has the best melody of the batch. The rhythms accommodate even the more awkward phrases with finesse.  The issue at hand is whether girlfriend’s buddies are platonic.  Everyone knows boys and girls can’t be friends, wake up.  The edgiest number, “What If” has a hint of Bad Religion hidden in the soup.  The progression moves along despite the light harmonies.  With “Fireworks” the vocal line becomes cheap.  No chances are made, and the vulnerability garners no sympathy.  It’s all a question of believability.  Everything from here on is a bid to become the next Goo-Goo Eyed Blind.  “Leavin’” is syrupy and uninventive with a seventies bent.  The pretty acoustic on “Shine” is thwarted by the singer’s attempt at moves he’s not perfected.  It’s slightly jazzy and awfully trite. 

Lyrics on “Happy Monday” are typical of the whole, it’s just another Sunday/ a few more hours till it’s Monday/ the weekend’s almost over/ I feel myself getting older/ it’s becoming more apparent/ I’m turning out like my parents.  Remember Extreme’s sappy ballad?  Check out “Lonely September.”  Same song, different dance.   By the time “Can’t Turn Around” tries to put some fire back in, it’s really too late.  This Bon Jovi imitation should have gone up with the more aggressive songs.  And why the hell did they re-write “Please Don’t Do This” as “Penny?”  I heard this jealousy song twice the first time.  I’m sure they had good intentions when they wrote “Radios In Heaven.”  But where do good intentions lead?  This awful death dedication states, up on the other side of the clouds/ I hope I turn out to be as good as you.  I’ll second that.

Plain White T’s offer truth in advertising.  Blue jean rock for bland college girls.  And while the vocals and lyrics have much room for improvement Stop has plenty of decent music on it.  Buy it if you love top 40 because Matchbox 20 don’t need your money.

— Ewan Wadharmi

Track Listing:

  1. Stop
  2. Please Don't Do This
  3. What If
  4. Fireworks
  5. Leavin'
  6. Shine
  7. Your Fault
  8. Happy Someday
  9. Lonely September
  10. Can't Turn Away
  11. Penny (Perfect for You)
  12. Radios in Heaven

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