Let’s face it. Once in awhile, life hands us something that makes us want to say “ewww.” That happened to me last night about 2:30 in the morning after listening to the debut album Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! from cute boy band Hellogoodbye.
Zombies! is the kind of album parents all over the US hope their pre-teen and teenage kids are listening to. It’s a collection of eleven harmless love songs; songs that lead singer Forrest Kline says are “about my girlfriend or someone who did or didn’t used to be my girlfriend.” More than anything these are the kind of highly danceable, sanitized romantic ballads one would hear in the background of a Disney Channel feature. So it’s “love” sans the reality of getting used, visits from the Special Victims Unit and being treated for an STD.
I suppose that’s okay in a business that’s constantly marketing to the pubescent among us. It won’t be too long before these kids cross over to cynicism and start trolling used record stores for early Korn releases anyway. Still, with the plethora of marketing out there for pills that ease Herpes and aisles of condoms in every Walgreens, the innocent songwriting on Zombies! seems rather quaint.
The first single from the album, “Here (In Your Arms),” is about a simmering one-sided romance at a sleep away camp. By the end of the summer dance, the affection turns mutual. Musically the song is pretty standard. Kline’s vocals are processed and looped into Jesse Kurvink’s keyboards. Kline’s guitar is strummed and pecked at in major keys—no complex rhythms here. Bassist Marcus Cole provides some perky accompaniment to Chris Profeta’s steady drum beats. It’s all up, up, upbeat — a bit like the band ate way too much Cocoa Puffs before they recorded.
Even though this obviously isn’t my kind of fare, the beat is infectious enough to get the most hardened among us to tap our toes. The rest of the album follows suit. Not many chord changes or even differences in tempo. In a way, it sounds like one song edited into eleven parts.
For me, the concept behind Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! and Hellogoodbye in general is neatly summed up in a comment made by keyboardist Kurvink. “We want to make albums and tour as long as we can and then get married to our girlfriends and have puppies and kids and live happily ever after.”
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