PLAIN WHITE T'S WONDERS OF THE YOUNGER - ALBUM REVIEW
Chicago-based Plain White T’s have had an excellent successful career, and with the release of their latest studio album Wonders of the Younger, their success will continue to grow. In 2006, Plain White T’s broke out from their underground Chicago music world with their smash hit “Hey There, Delilah”. They have toured with bands such as Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Dashboard Confessional, Gym Class Heroes, Cute is What We Aim For, and more. With their success with the single “Hey There, Delilah” Plain White T’s were nominated for a Grammy in 2008. Their latest release, Wonders of the Younger, released December 7th 2010, shows a different side to this gentle band. Including new writing strategies, new singers, and more, Plain White T’s definitely have created a fresh new sound.
Wonders of the Younger opens with “Irrational Anthem”. Lead vocalist Tom Higgenson sings about memories of teenage angst in this catchy song, and leaves the feeling of rebellion. I think the song should be named “Teenage Anthem” but nevertheless, it is an excellent opening track. “Boomerang” follows “Irrational Anthem”. “Boomerang” was the second single for Wonders of the Younger. It is not very complicated lyrically or musically, but it is catchy. The simple slow chord progression radiates childhood laziness. The following track is “Welcome to the Mystery”, and just like the title suggests, it is a mysterious song. It’s clear songwriter Tom Higgenson tried to make it exciting, but sadly it just does not satisfy.
The next track on Wonders of the Younger is “Rhythm of Love”. It was the album’s first single, and it is very impressive. It draws out the classic Plain White T’s feel, but in a different way. For the first time ever, lead vocalist Tom Higgenson is singing backing vocals, with guitarist Tim Lopez singing lead. Lopez wrote the song as well. It gives the feel of a Jason Mraz song, with a more innocent pop sense. “Map of the World” is plain and boring. The vocals are whiney and the lyrics are dull. Following “Map of the World” is “Killer”. It should be the breakout track of the album. It has strong vocals singing about the ‘what if’s’ of love. “Last Breath” is a generic song about struggles of love. It has a peaceful string opening that sounds similar to old Plain White T’s, but it does not impress.
“Broken Record” is the next track on Wonders of the Younger, and it surprisingly sounds like the Glee Cast version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”. It’s very unusual coming from Plain White T’s. It definitely has a pop-rock sound to it, and will maybe confuse some die-hard fans. It is very catchy though with its repetitive pop bridges and chorus. “Our Song” has a perfect balance of vocals and acoustic guitar. It’s a beautifully crafted love song that deserves radio time. “Airplane” shows the Plain White T’s ability to write lullabies. The slow strumming of the guitar is very comforting, but the vocals are slightly whiney. “Cirque Dans La Rue” is definitely not a typical Plain White T’s song; it sounds more like a relaxed version of Panic! at the Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. “Body Parts” follows. It isn’t very musically interesting, but it is a pretty piece nonetheless. “Make It Up As You Go” is a fun track that easily draws the mind to easy summer nights. The final track of Wonders of the Younger is the title track. “Wonders of the Younger” paints a picture of a colorful childhood. It makes you feel as if you’re in a fantasy world, pressuring you to look back at your past and reflect. It is a calm and unique song.
The latest release from Plain White T’s is overall an excellent one. Compared to past releases from this band, they have definitely made progress musically and lyrically. Although Wonders of the Younger proves they have matured as a band, there is definitely room for improvement. Maybe once their lead singer loses the whiney voice I can consider them a true alternative rock band.
Key Tracks: “Killer” “Our Song”