Just like all of the other bands heard on the radio nowadays, SafetySuit takes a smooth, poppy rock sound and flattens it out for radio readiness. They make streamlined choruses, simplistic lyrics, and likable melodies. That a lot of the songs on their sophomore release, These Times, sound like the outright single (“Stay”) off their first record, Life Left To Go, proves that they are trying to perfect a winning formula. They brought in talented producers Espionage, Howard Benson, and OneRepublic‘s Ryan Tedder, and they made an album that completely contradicts what radio music should sound like: it’s actually good.
These Times is a very, very likable record. It’s solid all around, and though it may not be the most deeply written album, it still has relatable lyrical themes. The melodies are a bit laid back, but that is not a bad thing. These simplified elements of the band’s sound are a good thing, as they make the record more relaxed and prevent things from getting too chaotic for that calm, breezy summer night. SafetySuit takes the type of music that is played all over the radio today and makes it great.
Starting off with “Believe,” a track with a cliche title, I was already figuring the band had sold out and made an opener that lacked the energy that the Switchfoot-meets-Three Days Grace opener off their debut (“Someone Like You”) had, but everything that the band did makes “Believe” great. First off, it has easily relatable lyrics. Vocalist Doug Brown preaches out in the chorus “Cause I need you / To stay here with me / To stay here with me / I don’t want you to leave” around the song’s succulent instrumentals. Second, the band squeezes in some nice ambient sounds to give the song a dissolving feeling; in fact, most of the songs feature these oceanic effects, just like in their first record. And third, it’s a catchy, memorable song with a soaring chorus that may have you singing along for days.
“Let Go,” the poppiest song (which means it will obviously be the most popular) is another example of when things get noticeable. The lyrics are easily discernible and they mold together perfectly to show Brown’s struggle with love. In fact, most of the songs deal with relationships, with the exception of the mostly-acoustic title track, which deals with the ragged feelings of sad periods of life. “Never Stop,” with its Daughtry-esque guitars, features slower melodies and keyboards, but it’s done a lot better than the weak ballads on Daughtry’s latest album. On the other hand, acoustic tracks like “Things To Say” are also very well executed, thanks to the rustic guitar plucks and smooth production.
Every once in a while, when things seem to get too poppy, elements like a little grungy solo are added in for effect, and prevent the album from falling through a hole to complete mainstream pandemonium. These Times is noticeably poppier than the band’s debut, but you can still feel the saccharine electric guitars and powerful drum hits making the record rocky. “Crash” is a great rock anthem with a high-energy chorus that is catchy and exciting. It’s another song that will make you want to hit the repeat button.
As a whole, These Times is an album that will have you singing along when you don’t even know the words; it’s a well-produced, well-executed record. It makes up for all of the lame radio rock albums I’ve heard in the last few years, including weak releases from Daughtry and Lifehouse; this is a reputable record with consistently strong ballads. Their sound is surrounded by floating guitars and wavy atmospheric background effects engrossing the listener in sugar-coated sweetness. It may not be as good as the band’s debut, but I still have to give a very big hand to SafetySuit here; they have made a record well worth listening to.