It’s been almost a year since Go Radio released their first full-length studio album, “Lucky Street”, and captivated a fan base nothing less than devoted. Since then, they’ve acquired an array of fresh ears and an outstanding following after setting out on not only a spring promotional tour last March, but their current fall outing as of earlier this month. That being said, after “Lucky Street’s” raging success, their sophomore album was not only anticipated, but a critical release as it is for any band. Though it’s safe to say that playing off the progression from one album to another, this time around the new and developed sound of this band is bound to send them into yet another rampant wave of attainment.
I’m a strong believer in an album’s ability to reel in listeners with its opening track. Frankly, it’s critical, and “Close the Distance” has managed to hit the nail right on the head as far as any of that is concerned. It’s immediately obvious that the pop-punk sound relished throughout “Lucky Street” has strayed, however only so much to see a natural, expected progression. “I Won’t Lie” is, like all Go Radio material, driven by Jason Lancaster’s outstanding vocals and the seemingly simple melodies that, although are nothing intricate, embellish his voice and the harmonious piano collaborations. Right out of the gate, we’re reminded of just why this band has come back from the positive empowerment of their last album, and frankly, the chorus is to die for.
The album’s first single, “Go To Hell,” is a perfect demonstration of what classic Go Radio fans are craving-an empowered chorus, lead up by a softer verse and, again, the big vocals to drive home the point. It has a similar structure to “Lost and Found,” which takes full advantage of the piano, as well.
It’s the title track, ironically enough, that throws the biggest loop on the album. The introduction is like nothing we’ve heard from this band before, however it’s captivating in that sense, and the minute the guitars kick in we’re snapped back to what fans fell in love with about this band to begin with. And while these familiar chords and melodies act as a solid reminder to their roots, bits can feel a bit recycled and overused when compared to what we’ve heard in the past.
“The Ending,” starts out slow, and I say that in a literal sense. To be honest, it’s a weird contrast from verse to chorus—simply put, the verses are a little tiresome and unoriginal, while the choruses are seemingly powerful and clearly a depiction of Lancaster’s heartfelt vocals. It’s an obviously emotion-based song, and for the critical and borderline self-deprecating lyrics, I’ll condemn him. However, it’s clearly not the bands best, nor the albums.
A great majority of Go Radio’s success has stemmed from their ballads, so it’s not surprising that “Close the Distance” would end on one, as well. “Hear Me Out,” does a much better job than “The Ending,” of harnessing everything that this band has set out to do this time around. What I thoroughly enjoy about this track is Lancaster’s ability to downsize his voice, with no immediate builds or climaxes through most of the song, but still give listeners something to acknowledge (however, this constant vocal acknowledgement is just another necessity of any Go Radio album). The acoustic guitar and drifting, background harmonies play in subtly, but perfectly nonetheless. It isn’t until a little more than halfway through that we get that predictable, but just as impressive climb to really drive home this album. The instrumental core along with the combination of voices and really, just the song itself is overwhelmingly great from that point on to the very end of the album.
The trickery of this album is trying to distinguish how much of it falls into “classic” Go Radio, and how much is just pure repetition. I’ll be honest, there are bits and pieces that feel tired and overdone, as if it was ripped off “Lucky Street” and given just a slight makeover. For those who were addicted to “Lucky Street” last year, perhaps that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For those who were disappointed, you may need to just pick a few favorites. However, breakout hits such as “Close the Distance,” “I Won’t Lie” and the light ballad ”What If You Don’t,” spring this album in a direction that’s clearly mastered the balancing act between both classic and proactive progression. However, all things aside, there’s no denying the appeal of this album. Fans will not only play it on repeat, they’ll join the many waiting to see them performed live, and then immediately anticipate what’s to come next from these always impressive Tallahassee natives.