Im sure most people reading our reviews here at Scene Point Blank wont care about clicking on this album. The Starting Line is a pretty mainstream band; not something the readers would jump to buy, or even care to listen to at all. I know youre thinking that there was that slew of early 2000s Drive-Thru pop-punk bands that were all pretty expendable, but somehow this band survived that trend and are still making catchy paint-by-numbers songs, right? Not quite. The bands second full-length, 2005s Based on a True Story, saw the bands true songwriting and pop sensibilities come through like I would have never expected.
Since their last album was one of my favorites of 2005, I had somewhat high expectations for Direction. I thought that their new spark could carry them into further big-time recognition without ruining the sound. This new album marks the bands entrance into major label leagues, which made me a little wary. However, even with my high hopes this release delivered on some level.
Direction is full of catchy songs, if nothing else. Even the biggest cynics wont be able to help themselves from bobbing their head to the majority of the album. It seems to combine the best parts of the bands past two full-lengths and adds a new twinge to create a solid release for any kind of fan. You have your simple poppy songs from the first album (see 21 and Hurry), as well as the unexpected melodies of Based on a True Story (see Way With Words and Somebodys Gonna Miss Us). Theres a bit of getting used to the new sound. The first single, Direction, just didnt sit well for me, but I try to let it slide. I lump it in with the middle of Something Left to Give, where theres a bunch of people shouting la la la laa la la la . But please dont let that one part sway you negatively.
The major label recording does wonders for lead singer/bassist Keith Vasoli. His voice is really consistent and powerful. If you questioned whether or not he could actually sing, all music (save a lone faded guitar) cuts out in I Could Be Wrong so he can croon the chorus with more accuracy than you could ask for. These guys really are good musicians whether or not you choose to enjoy their releases.
This album is good; theres no doubt about that in my mind, but its not amazing. I feel like the major label production messed with the niche this band has made for themselves a little bit. Not so much as to wreck the sound, but enough to take note and see that all the songs have the same set structure. Am I a little biased because I love this band so much? Obviously. But The Starting Line has really come into their own with this polished pop-rock sound, shedding their teenage pop-punk image pretty quickly. As far as major-label bands go, this one really is worth a few listens.
8.2 / 10
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