Every year there are a handful of songs that invade every airwave and track you down wherever you try to hide. Love them or hate them, they will dig deep into your brain until you hum them unwillingly while stuck in rush hour traffic. In 2007 one of those songs was the platinum hit “Here (In Your Arms)” by Hellogoodbye. The heavily modulated pop phenom was the first of a few hits from their debut album off of Drive-Thru Records called Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, which also included “All of Your Love” and “Baby, It’s Fact.”
As many bands who hit the spotlight fast from a debut album do, once home from their worldwide tour, they went to work on a follow-up album (Would It Kill You?). Yet, that album ended up only seeing very limited distribution because the band broke from Drive-Thru Records and released it under their own label, Wasted Summer. Cut to the present, Hellogoodbye have signed on as the first artist to under a new label, Old Friends Records, and the record company is reissuing Would It Kill You? with bonus live tracks from the Daytrotter’s Barnstormer Tour and a previously unreleased track called “Not Ever Coming Home.”
During the overwhelming airplay of “Here (In Your Arms)” there was some fairly common criticism of the band. While detractors would begrudgingly admit the obvious talent for catchy pop hooks, they would openly doubt the band could satisfy a live crowd since they relied so heavily on Auto-Tune and voice modulation for the vocals. To me, it became very obvious those people had never seen them live.
Hellogoodbye surprises and excites their crowds with an amazing blend of humor, power and rock-influenced rage behind their nerd/hipster exteriors. While the music can fall under the category of folk/pop, their energy is much more comfortable under the umbrella of punk. Leaping around stage, lead singer Forrest Kline screams chorus lyrics like he was exorcising Iggy Pop.
On the reissue of Would It Kill You?, you get to hear some of that power and a lot more of their skill without it being hidden behind the computerized perfection of Pro Tools. Tracks like “Finding Something to Do”, “You Sleep Alone” and “I Never Can Relax” display an edge that might shock fans of their more sweet, sugar-laced tracks. Yet, you can still find lovestruck tunes like “The Thoughts That Give Me the Creeps” and more folk/’40s-inspired tracks like “Coppertone.”
The extra live tracks help wrap up this re-introduction to a band that was too easily written off as one-hit wonder a few years back, but are now out to prove they have much more to say and much more to rock.