You Had Me At Hello – Take It Off

Reviewed by Mark Plummer

On first listen, there’s something strikingly familiar about You Had Me At Hello, and if you know you’re american pop-punk bands, you soon arrive at a conclusion; this could quite easily be a long lost Houston Calls EP, all it’s missing is that defining synth. Whilst this isn’t a forgotten Houston Calls EP, it is definitely a catchy listen, albeit with some minor niggles here and there.

The vocals don’t really seem to know what they’re doing, struggling to reach the listener. They seem to be lost on more than one occasion, trying to make their way into the song and taking more of a backseat. In fact, this isn’t the only instrument to seemingly take a backseat. The drums also feel second-hand, or rather, underworked. The playing style from whoever controls the kit is a great addition and obviously packs quite a punch, but this is lacking from the record and sits rather sloppily than professionally in the mix. Letting the power and punch that might have been expected slip away like this is an obvious mistake.

Instead the focus seems to be drawn more to the guitars rather than anything else, they sound as if they’re sitting left, right and centre. Guitar work seems to be all that this record is about. The main issues that this causes is to disillusion listeners into not visualising the band correctly when hearing these tracks. Records need to be arranged so that as it’s listened to, you can picture where each of these instruments would realistically be placed on stage, and this is badly lacking. As a result the general instrumentation gives off the impression of holding talent, and you can certainly pick this out, but also and more importantly, feeling quite withdrawn. It’s with irony that the first track Diamonds & Pearls features the line “Don’t hold back now“.

All in all, this isn’t a bad listen and You Had Me At Hello would more than likely be worth a shout live. Is Take It Off worth parting with cash though? Probably not, maybe one or two tracks that stand out, but overall, this should be more of a free release than anything else.

3 out of 5


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