When a band with one album is chosen by Paul McCartney to open for him in his big return to Shea Stadium (at the new Citi Field), and by U2 to open for them as they start their tour in Dublin, you would guess that these lads from Dublin are pretty good. The fact that, of the 10 songs on their CD, 6 have gone Number One in Europe, would confirm the 'pretty good' status, and get them towards 'really good'. Hear them live, and you will know that their performances are often better than the recorded versions, and singer Danny O'Donohue is an amazing, soulful, singer who will have you thinking Bono one minute and then do a dead-on Sting the next. His range is amazing and his Celtic soul sound is a welcome change to the dreary 'Boom Boom GaGa' sound of Pop Radio these days.
The history here is two of the members (Danny and Mark) were in a boy band called MyTown that had a huge signing bonus and then flopped. They were supposed to be an Irish version of NSYNC. After that they went to the US and worked with a lot of the top R&B producers and honed their craft. Mark is supposed to be one of the best choreographers in Ireland, but now stands still and plays the guitar while singing background or rapping. The boys are all jeans and work boots or sneakers, and the glitter is long gone. It works and they should be around for a long while.
Favorite songs include: We Cry, The Man Who Can't Be Moved, Breakeven, Before the Worst, Fall For Anything, Talk You Down, and the End Where I Begin. Good, but not Great (for me): Rusty Halo. Many friends LOVE it though.... Danny is definitely channeling Sting on that track, and the bass line is definitely Sting-like. This could fit on a Police album without modification. Not a fan of: If You See Kay...they are a little too clever here (think of each word as a letter). Kills the song for me. (I wonder if Britney's writers pilfered this idea when they wrote If You Seek Amy...? Creepy to think of little girls singing along...) The songs are a blend of pop, soul, rap, rock, and R & B. I would say the lyrics, which are really important to me, are not as poignant as U2, The Clash, Dylan, etc. but definitely a cut-above the generic pop song, and the band clearly tried not to write a whole album of love songs. We Cry is about how life can trash people's dreams and be brutally difficult for many. Fall For Anything is about developing boundaries (You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything), but in a boy-girl social context. Rusty Halo is about how fear and the rat-race can l overwhelm a person's spirit and cause them to forget the right things.
9 out of 10 ain't bad, to paraphrase Jim Steinman. Everybody I have told about this album has come back to me raving about it, and have become fanatical fans.The bottom line is the songs are very well crafted, (mostly) love songs, that are extremely catchy, well sung, with good lyrics, that you'll be singing along to for weeks. Get this album... you will love it. A solid 4 and a half stars for me. And try to catch a performance online or live, you will be blown away by how good they are in person, often with just an acoustic guitar and box to bang on...