At a time when melancholic music in the style of Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab for Cutie is popular, We The Kings’ unabashedly cheerful music brings some sunlight to dreary grey skies.
The group from Bradenton, Florida are best known for their previous single “Check Yes Juliet”, which peaked at 37 in U.S. Billboard Pop 100 charts in 2008.
The band members, Travis Clark who provides the lead vocals and plays the guitar, Hunter Thomsen on the guitar and backing vocals, Drew Thomsen on the bass and Danny Duncan who does the drums, go way back. They originally started as a high school band, and began touring when in college. However, the annals of history tell us they really met at Martha B. King Middle School (Middle School is typically for between 11- to 14-year-olds), which provides the inspiration behind band’s name.
Compared to their self-titled debut album – this sophomore effort, Smile Kid, delivers another catchy, foot-tapping album. Unfortunately, the lyrics lack depth, revolving mainly around the themes of love, girls, with the occasional ode to their hometown.
The music is energetic, and beats are infectiously upbeat, which will translate into live performances nicely. This time, however, the long-haired boys dabble in a bit of electric with the synthesizer, which does the delicate balancing act of making their music more interesting, yet staying faithful to their pop-rock roots.
Smile Kid supplies some notable tracks that fans will enjoy. The album opens promisingly with “She Takes Me High”, “Promise The Stars” and “Heaven Can Wait” with its many hooks, positive lyrics about the depths of love and the typical WTK’s high-powered chorus that will make you bop to the music.
You’ve probably heard their latest single, “Heaven Can Wait” on the radio. While their music video doesn’t quite make sense, the concept of a Dog Show is quirky nonetheless and produces some chuckles.
Unfortunately, the album loses momentum towards the middle with “Rain Falls Down” and “Spin”, which are less than memorable, compared to the other tracks and feel overly long at 4:30 minutes and 4 minutes respectively.
Their seventh track in this album stands out with its progressive story-line type lyrics. Synthesized music is used to good effect in “In-N-Out”, which makes this number sound kooky and fun.
Once again, you can’t escape the group’s love for their hometown, although the references are less direct, unlike “This is Our Town” from their debut album. “Anna Maria” is probably named after the island just off the coast of Bradenton, while “Summer Love” is reminiscent of balmy summer days, freshly-cut grass and afternoons spent at the beach – doesn’t that remind you of the ever-sunny state of Florida? However, both songs lack that something to make them stand out.
Disney girl, Demi Lovato joins the boys in the sweet and wistful, “We’ll Be a Dream” in this ballad that’s perfect for the hopeless romantic in you. The song is well suited to be a duet and has a lovely melody as well as a euphoric chorus. Demi’s strong vocals complement the band well, although there are instances where she overpowers them.
If you purchase the deluxe edition from iTunes, it includes 2 bonus tracks, the acoustic versions of “Heaven Can Wait” and “She Takes Me High”. They are a much welcome addition, as there’s more emphasis on the frontman, Travis Clark’s vocals, which are pleasing to the ear.
Overall, We The Kings know their what they’re good at – catchy melodies and hooks, but don’t rock the boat too much by embarking into more adventurous waters.
Smile Kid provides plenty of fun, infectious tunes, which will definitely please their teenage fans. Most tunes grow on you, although tracks are best played in shuffled mode, otherwise you’re warned against having them played altogether or on repeat, especially if you are not a huge fan of pop music. This can be overwhelming. Ultimately though, to the discerning ear, the album leaves something wanting.
Title: Smile Kid
Artiste: We The Kings
Record Label: S-Curve Records
Release Date: Dec 8 2009
1. She Takes Me High
2. Promise The Stars
3. Heaven Can Wait
4. The Story Of Your Life
5. Rain Falls Down
6. Summer Love
7. In-N-Out (Animal Style)
9. Anna Maria (All We Need)
10. We’ll Be A Dream (feat. Demi Lovato)
11. What You Do To Me
Heaven Can Wait (Acoustic)
She Takes Me High (Acoustic)