WE THE KINGS
BOTTOM LINE Bringing Warped Tour edge to radio-friendly pop styles
We The Kings arrived in the emo-pop bubble of the mid-2000s, alongside the likes of Cute Is What We Aim For and Boys Like Girls. What has kept the Florida rockers thriving, though, is their craftiness.
“Six” (S-Curve/BMG) is the product of another successful PledgeMusic campaign from the band and a well-orchestrated plan to widen its appeal by pulling together an assortment of well-written songs from across the pop-rock spectrum.
From “Check Yes Juliet” on, singer-guitarist Travis Clark has shown that he can handle a variety of vocal approaches and he continues that here. As conventionally Warped Tour-ready as the first single “On My Love” sounds, Clark balances the sweetness of the sentiment with a bit of edge. “Festival Music,” which captures the band’s years on the touring circuit, finds him going from soaring notes on the chorus to rapping a torrent of syllables. On the stomping “Alive,” with its roaring metal guitar riffs and screams, We The Kings bounces between Imagine Dragons percussive, hip-hop-steeped swagger and moments of tender piano as Clark leads a singalong of “I’m alive for a reason.”
There are times when the band strays a little too far out of its comfort zone, like in the dance pop number “Mama Knows Best,” which is packed with synthesizer squiggles and EDM drops that sound out of sync with the rest of the album, especially when Clark repeatedly extends “them” into a two-syllable word.
However, the album’s other risk, the gorgeous piano ballad “What I Wouldn’t Give,” pays off nicely, as Clark poignantly deals with the loss of loved ones. “A mother’s love can never be replaced, but what I wouldn’t give for one more day,” he sings. “I would give my eyes if I could see you one more time.”
It’s proof that We The Kings can keep experimenting because their music is built on such a solid foundation of songwriting craftsmanship.