Indiana pop act The Ready Set hasn’t released a full length album since 2010’s I’m Alive, I’m Dreaming and it’s been a long time coming. Sure, he’s released a handful of singles like “Young Forever” and “Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever)” (before it was on this album of course), as well as releasing the Feel Good Now (2011) and Sorry Sorry EPs (which teased “Are We Happy Now?” and “Freakin’ Me Out” from this album) to keep the fans happy. His latest release, The Bad & the Better, absolutely showcases a growth from his breakout album and is by far his best work yet.
Starting off with his spirit-lifting “Higher”, Jordan Witzigreuter opens the floor to a series of peppy yet emotion-inducing and relatable songs. Of course, there will be the fun, cutesy tracks like the ’80s party-inspired “Freakin Me Out”, “Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever)”, the live-in-the-moment “Luxury”, and the “Bitter and the Sweetness” (it’s an okay song, but it’s about as appreciated as an engagement notification on your Facebook sidebar).
Surprisingly, a majority of the album concerns other themes than just being another love song. The slower-paced, semi-ethereal sounding “Are We Happy Now?” is more melancholy with its lyrics about always striving for more and not really appreciating what you have in front of you, while “Bleeding” has the ‘I’m fucking done’ attitude towards someone who doesn’t want to be helped no matter how much you care about them. The music of “Carry Me Home” is so obnoxiously cute (a-la All Time Low‘s “The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver”) but when you hear him curse *insert shocked emoji here*, you realize that it’s actually about still holding on to hope for a relationship despite how badly it ended and the song is a lot more respectable. “Don’t You Need Me?” is written from two different perspectives: 1) from the mindset of the person leaving and 2) from the person who’s not ready to let go.
Included on the deluxe version of the album are three bonus tracks that add to the awesomeness of this album. Okay, so maybe we could have lived without his doo-woppy dedication to Taylor Swift, but the other two tracks are absolutely fantastic. Witzigreuter delves into the subject matter of being so deep in the friend zone it’s ridiculous in “More Than This” while the kinda-love-song-but-not-really “Terrible Things” discusses being there for someone through a difficult time in their life.
Two songs really take the cake on being exceptionally written: “Castaway” and “Fangz”. While both are similar in theme, they are still relatively different in musical nature. “Castaway (feat. Jake Miller)” hands down has the best lyrics on the entire album. Lines like “I heard you say that you were writing a diary of a nobody and the pages burn right through” as well as its chorus hit home for anyone who feels like they just don’t fit in anywhere. This track shows a glimmer of hope and strives to make a point that you are never alone in those feelings; it was inspired by stories from fans saying they made a good friend at one of his performances. It’s a similar scenario for “Fangz”, except that it’s set to a dubstep-like beats and that he curses. It’s pretty much saying ‘fuck everyone who chooses to condemn you because you are different’ and is the ultimate anthem for underdogs trying to prove themselves.
The Bad & the Better stays within The Ready Set’s original style, which is always good for an artist of his nature. It’s very apparent that he has grown a lot as an artist and I for one dig his journey into curse-dom. I give him props for trying to break out of the bubblegum pop style a little bit. Jordan Witzigreuter consistently keeps the listener’s attention with line after line of honest, witty wordplay and this album exceeds expectations.