Get ready y’all, because with the opening drum beat of What We Live For you’re in for another soul-lifting journey with American Authors. The band’s second full-length album follows their journey outside of their comfort zone, for better or worse.
Close your eyes and set the stage as American Authors play a variety of characters throughout their tracks. They travel with gypsies by way of thick folk vibes (complete with plenty of tambourine action), and paint pictures of desert campfires. They take the stage in a swanky jazz lounge, and then a stage made of crates with a two-stepping crowd. Their penchant for painting a picture and lightening your mood hasn’t changed since 2014’s Oh, What a Life, like their sound on “What We Live For,” but they’ve introduced plenty of new aspects along the way, like the very welcome curveball of a spoken word delivery on “Pride.”
With that extra room to play, however, came a lot of experimentation. And like any new trial, there were some failed attempts. The Brooklyn quartet fell into poppier territory, making them extra radio friendly at times, and listener unfriendly at others. “Replaced” is a brooding boy band break-up track that just doesn’t work, no matter how many auto-tune flourishes were added. “No Love” holds a brighter outlook with its Hot Chelle Rae-style, upbeat sound, but falls short with lyricism that doesn’t impress. It didn’t all go to waste, though, because AA found the perfect balance of their folk feelings and pop goals on “Mess With Your Heart.” The sweet track is as potent as a love spell, and makes up for those that missed the mark.
The album ends on an interesting note with “Mind Body and Soul.” The closer is distant and a little abstract before it catches up with you on its final moments. The finale of the song was made to be played live, displaying all of the energy it’s bound to conjure up on stage.
American Authors ventured into facets of their creativity we hadn’t seen before on What We Live For. There might have been a few misses in the collection, but they found their fair share of home runs, too. And after all, what’s an adventure without a few wrong turns?
‘What We Live For’ is out on July 1 through Island Records and can be purchased on iTunes.