Of all the musical albums I own, I am most embarrassed to show off my copy of Echosmith’s debut album “Talking Dreams”. iTunes may think the band is “punk” but I think their genre system is “junk”. As is the album, for the most part. Alright, that’s unfair. I genuinely like it.
Hang on, I think I accidentally recycled everything I said the first time I wrote about Echosmith. Let me check… https://pungry.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/bands-on-my-ipod-echosmith/. Hmm, yep. Even used the same joke about Echosmith being classified as punk on iTunes. Great. What else did I say in that piece?
“I’m looking forward to seeing what Echosmith will do for their next album. It’ll probably be nothing earth-shaking, like this album wasn’t, but it’ll probably be more solid music. And the world could always do with more solid music.”
Well, who knew it would take the siblings four years to live up to this simple hope? Four years and one sibling lost later, Echosmith is back as a trio with the 7-song EP Inside a Dream. Instead of focusing on a particular sound off of Talking Dreams, the band has shifted to sounding closer to a generic pop band. At the very least, the pop sound they capture is closer to Phoenix-influenced pop of 2012 or so than the newest, godawful wave of edgy pop music as produced by Katy Perry or Taylor Swift.
Did I just write that sentence? Man, that’s awful. I’m going to stop sounding bitter about becoming an old man and instead focus on what’s playing in my headphones right now. Oh, would you look at that? It’s the new Echosmith EP. I liked their first album, and it’s too bad they had to delay their second one until February of next year, isn’t it? That song Cool Kids was a real banger, I hope they have one as good here! I’m a little worried that they just got extremely lucky with that, but hey all that matters is what we got.
The EP starts with the chillpop song Lessons. A friend of mine I showed the song to said it sounded like a natural evolution to Taylor Swift’s 1989 sound, and I can see it. It’s a simple, slightly-clever pop song. Plus, if you read the lyrics, they basically sound like a sequel to Style. It isn’t offensive, nor is it catchy. Some may condemn a piece of art for not making any real impression, but if you can listen to a song for 3 and a half minutes without thinking it sucks, isn’t that an achievement in itself?
Get Into My Car is very hard for me to evaluate without any further context. The reason for that is the hilarious music video. It really is just multiple ads stringed together in a hackneyed way. But I like the song a lot. The way she “sings” the word “car” in that odd pitch stuck with me and got the track in my head despite the tasteless music video and bad lyrics. Again, it’s a well-written pop song that just works. One cynical thing I will say is how the music video does not go well with the EP’s theme of being young and confused; these guys know exactly what they’re doing when framing the McDonald’s logo in the camera’s center.
18 is by far the best song on the album. It’s pure Phoenix, and I love it. This is the first song that Sydney sings about being young and confused. What confuses me is that she’s 20! Ah well, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she wrote the lyrics when she was 18. Future Me follows, and is not quite as good, but is another solid pop song about being young. The synths in the chorus sound like something out of a Chainsmokers track, but Sydney’s voice is far less “corporate” sounding than those guys. Her optimistic lyrics and vocals work with the sound.
Goodbye was the first single off the EP. It’s the only song on the EP that is about somebody other than the speaker, so it is a bit out of place. Plus, it’s a little “darker” in tone. It makes for a good change of pace from all the bright hooks and melodies. I like it. Hungry is easily the lowest of the 7 tracks, but it isn’t terrible. Out of the 7, it is the hardest to dance to. And the lyrics just aren’t great. Love and appetite are never an appealing connection. Now, if the song was called “Pungry”, it’d be way better.
The EP ends with another affirming-but-fearful song about being young called Dear World. It’s a nice, chill way to close out the album, and sums up the message of the first six tracks. Echosmith mastered the art of the five paragraph essay, especially the summarizing conclusion. All in all, Echosmith is a good pop band that makes good pop music, and it is okay for me to like them.