At a time when acts such as Bastille and Imagine Dragons are considered the top of the class for the exciting new ‘guitar’ bands of today, Boston quartet American Authors are admirably trying to shape themselves to slot into the current climate. Unfortunately however, the group’s unique selling point appears to be the random addition of a banjo into a collection of songs that would incite shuddering in even the most cringeworthy of boybands.
By no means are the eleven tracks that make up the record poorly written – quite the contrary in fact, Oh, What A Life is full of catchy ear-worms that will drive you insane all day – but they do lack anything that would suggest that American Authors possess a personality. There is nothing present here whatsoever that steps out of line – no elongated instrumental passage to raise an eyebrow and no insightful lyrics to might make one ponder the workings of life.
The songs here have been so watered down in the group’s clear quest for ultimate accessibility. With its gigantic tom drums, twinkling banjo and chanted chorus opening track ‘Believer’ acts as good an ambassador as any song here as it contains all of the ingredients that form the foundation of the album. ‘Best Day Of My Life’ sits atop a weak banjo riff before falling into a chorus so full of cheese that it’s virtually impossible not to imagine it being over-passionately mimed by all of the grin-wearing band. And that’s even before you’ve seen the music video. ‘Luck’ is the obligatory emotional-apology-to-loved-ones track while ‘Home’ attempts to tick every last clichéd box to obtain epic status including a capella breaks and a guitar solo that Jon Bon Jovi might call ‘a tad too much’.
The band are clearly a hit within their target audience – as their performance at the Kids Choice Awards proves – but here, in debut record Oh, What A Life, American Authors have succeeded in creating an album that’s so inoffensive that it’s downright offensive.