The Script could easily have stuck to, um, the script, after launching two well-crafted, successful pop-rock albums. But the Irish trio isn't that kind of band.
On "#3" (Epic), front man Danny O'Donoghue, Mark Sheehan and Glen Power take some remarkable risks -- adding hip-hop rhymes to their pop-rock, even teaming up with Black Eyed Pea will.i.am for the first single, "Hall of Fame."
The results are uneven, especially when compared to the band's ballads, which are really where the band's songwriting excel. However, the artistic stretch seems to helped The Script overall.
O'Donoghue's rapping on "If You Could See Me Now" isn't going to scare off Eminem or Drake, but it does get the point of missing his parents across. While "Hall of Fame" is pretty anemic as hip-hop, it's certainly edgier than the average One Republic entry.
It's that edge that raises the level of the rest of "#3," giving it unexpected lyrical twists and melodic turns. "Six Degrees of Separation" takes a ballad that could have been a songwriting exercise and makes it something wrenching and emotional. "Glowing" is a sparkling piano ballad that will likely outlive the rest of the album and find new lives in "Idol"-like singing competitions for years to come, as O'Donoghue pushes the giddiness of love in lines like "I'mma follow you and we'll both go missing."
In today's high-stakes music industry, risk-taking like "#3" is so rare that The Script should get credit for it, even if it doesn't always work out.
GRADE< /> B
BOTTOM LINE An unexpected pop ride