potential to be a very good album

Grade - 1.9

released Nov 9th, 2010

from the album - When We First Met - grade 2.0


from all music


A group of quirky, fun-loving emo rockers from California, Hellogoodbye seem to take as much influence from modern pop-punk as they do from the original Nintendo sound bleeps that held children captive in the late '80s. Formed by high school friends in 2002, the group's playful brand of indie power pop is infused with sugary sweetness, catchy dance beats, and enough energy to tire a group of five-year-olds. Hellogoodbye, named after a quote from Saved by the Bell's Screech Powers, is composed of vocalist/guitarist Forrest Kline, bassist Marcus Cole, keyboardist Jesse Kurvink, and drummer Chris Profeta. First releasing their self-titled EP for free download on their label's website, the physical album hit stores with an additional track in November 2004 on Drive Thru (where Kline used to intern). The move worked to the band's advantage and their music quickly spread; the single "Shimmy Shimmy Quarter Turn" made minor waves on MTV and garnered the band a pretty notable following for having only a handful of songs to their name. Extensive touring commenced, joining up for gigs (which often included water guns, confetti, and costumes) with bands like the Format and the All-American Rejects. The music video/live DVD OMG HGB DVD ROTFL appeared in the fall of 2005, and by the year's end, the band had won the on-air MTV Dew Circuit Breakout contest, beating Over It and Tub Ring in the end. Early 2006 was spent playing sold-out nationwide dates as openers for the Academy Is... before hooking up with Motion City Soundtrack and Straylight Run in the spring for the MTVU Campus Invasion Tour. A spot on May's Bamboozle festival preceded a summer spent on the Warped Tour. All this activity ultimately led up to the release of their highly anticipated full-length Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, which finally hit stores that August. The album was a chart success and the single "Here (In Your Arms)" raced up the singles chart. After more touring, the band began to run into some problems. First came the departure of Jesse Kurvink, then more line-up shuffles and a protracted lawsuit led to a lack of product from the band until the release of a self-released single ("When We First Met") in late 2009. By then the band had shifted musical direction away from emo-pop and toward a lush indie pop sound free of Auto Tune and novelty songs. By the time they released their 2010 album Would It Kill You? the band consisted of Kline (who played nearly everything on the album himself), drummer Mike Nielsen, bassist Travis Head, keyboardist Joseph Marro, and guitarist Andrew Richards.

Album Review

Since the 2006 release of their debut album Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, Hellogoodbye has gone through a lot as a band. The departure of founding member Jesse Kurvink, a huge hit single with "Here (In Your Arms)," a bitter lawsuit with their label Drive-Thru, a shuffling lineup, and ultimately an almost complete revamp of their sound made for a busy few years. On Would It Kill You?, bandleader Forrest Kline (together with Matt Mahaffey, who worked on the previous album) leaves behind all traces of emo pop to create something influenced more by the classic sounds of the Zombies or the Kinks rather than Jimmy Eat World or Weezer. Apart from Mahaffey's drumming and a few other guests, Kline does everything on the album, and his vision is open-hearted and romantic. His warm and inviting vocals, backed by chiming guitars, bouncing tempos, richly arranged strings, horns, and lots of bells and keys give the record a sound that seems like it’s made by a totally different band. There’s no Auto-Tune, no novelty songs, and very few moments that would lead you to think the band would be welcome on a Warped Tour stage. Instead, it’s the sound of a guy coming out from behind the tricks he used to hide behind and laying himself bare. Turns out Kline's not a tortured artist or an angst-filled wretch, he’s just a big, goofy romantic, and that’s just as valid when the results are as charming as these. The best song on the record, “When We First Met,” is one of the most refreshingly sweet and uncomplicated (not to say simple) love songs to come out of the modern pop era, telling the story of a love affair through changing hairstyles. The rest of the album holds more heartwarming treasures like this, all played with energy and feeling. When Kline does explore the melancholy and unease that even the happiest of fellas can’t avoid, it’s done with a light touch musically and insightfully clever lyrics. The mood never sinks below wistful, even when he quotes one of the saddest songs ever “Always Something There to Remind Me” on the truly lovely "Coppertone." The strings are used masterfully here, creating a pitch-perfect mood. Throughout the album, in fact, Kline and Mahaffey make great use of dynamics and arrangements, so much so that the record could easily fit in with the “classic” chamber pop records of the early '90s. Hopefully, fans of the band's earlier work will follow Kline’s new direction and sound. While the old recordings were fun and occasionally emotionally resonant, Would It Kill You? is a near masterpiece of pop, full of songs that will lift your spirits and fill your heart with a warm, comforting feeling. What more could you want from a pop album?

Track Listing

1 Finding Something to Do 2:55
2 Getting Old Kline 3:00
3 When We First Met Kline 2:34
4 Betrayed by Bones Kline 3:24
5 You Sleep Alone Kline 3:37
6 When We First Kissed Kline 3:15
7 The Thoughts That Give Me the Creeps Kline 2:54
8 I Never Can Relax Kline 3:34
9 Coppertone 4:03
10 Would It Kill You? Kline 3:37
11 Something You Misplaced Kline 3:38