I think I’ve had it with radio rock. On Thanksgiving, as I laid on my couch and watched Nickelback play the halftime show of the Lions game with a big half-grin on my face, it was hard not to laugh. The fans were booing them, and pretty hard too. The funny question that came to mind was: were they getting booed because they’re from Canada or because they’re just bad? I might lean towards the latter, but though Nickelback is that band no one wants to be compared to, Daughtry is quickly catching up.
I very much enjoyed Daughtry’s first two albums. There, I’ve said it. Ever since Chris Daughtry was on American Idol, I was eager to hear what he had in store, and with a full band in mind, I couldn’t wait. The band’s self-titled was full of great singles that felt fresh and organic, while their sophomore record Leave This Town saw the band coming into its own with a more specified groove. But now, five years and three albums since he placed fourth on Idol, Daughtry has become one of the biggest radio rock bands in America. But this is almost as sad as the fact that Daughtry was the sole representative of rock at the American Music Awards last week, and this isn’t a good thing.
Just like their last two albums, I expected to enjoy Break The Spell. The first two singles (“Renegade” and “Crawling Back To You”) were solid, but when I finally got the entire album, it was a battle of struggle and sweat to actually want to keep listening after the first two singles, which also happened to be the first two tracks. “Renegade” has a sort of swagger that’s a bit unusual for the band, but expected from a group of crazed rockers. “Crawling Back To You” isn’t as heavy, but feels like genuine grade-A material. But in the rest of the record, not only are the melodies and beats more simple and less creative, but the songwriting has no bounce or redeeming quality in it.
It’s no doubt that the vocals are fantastic, but the instrumentals? Not so much.
Tracks like “Crazy” and “We’re Not Gonna Fall” are faux-rockers, as they sound like everything else on the radio, with hollow guitar riffs and straightforward harmonies. Basically everything after the first four tracks is pretty weak, especially “Rescue Me” and “Gone Too Soon.” Break The Spell ironically is controlled by some sort of radio witch doctor who only allows them to make music for the evil radio god. It’s sad to say that Daughtry couldn’t break the spell. Their music is a false attempt to sound emotional and captivating, where the bottom line is they write weak lyrics and weak songs with fake emotion. If I want true emotion, I’ll listen to Brand New or Taking Back Sunday. Daughtry is playing such a stale sound that’s it’s a struggle to make it through the entire album.
The main reason to check out Break The Spell would be because of Chris Daughtry’s fabulous and extremely distinct voice, but besides that, there’s really not much to reflect upon. The band’s music is optimistic, but lacking depth. If you hate radio music, then this mainstream noise may not be for you. But even if you like good mainstream rock, you should easily be able to tell that, even with a few memorable tracks, this is Daughtry’s worst record to date. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the band, it just means they have a chance to make a record that hopefully tops this one. But Daughtry is on the downfall, and, whether you can believe it or not, they’ve almost reached Nickelback’s depravity.