When you’ve got one of the biggest bands in the country supporting you, there has to be a really good reason why. New York alt rockers X Ambassadors impressed Imagine Dragons so much that they immediately were signed to the same label, and they definitely deserved it. Their hard-hitting smash hit “Jungle (feat. Jamie N Commons)” also added to their success, as it was featured in promo trailers for ‘Orange Is The New Black,’ ‘Horrible Bosses 2’ and ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ as well as being played on episodes of popular tv shows ‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘Supernatural.’ Right off the bat, we learn that this band is more than willing to prove their worth and ambition, shown in their newest album VHS.
Their utterly infectious single “Renegades” is blowing up all of the alternative rock radio-sphere and it was certainly the best choice as a breakout hit. However, there are more powerful (both lyrically and instrumentally) hidden tracks on VHS that may easily get looked over if you’re someone who only listens to what plays on the radio. Emotion riddled tracks “Unsteady” and “Nervous” both delve into dark-yet-fairly-common subject matters. The former discusses that fear of revealing that you feel alone even when it seems like everyone is supporting you, while the latter is about not being able to live in a happy state of being because you “get nervous ’cause what comes up must come down.”
I think the contender for best song has to be “Naked”, hands down. Contrary to what the song title may entail, it’s not an overly sexual song. In, fact it’s beautifully intimate in its lyrics and is more of a love song than a bedroom song. Frontman Sam Harris honestly croons about what the ideal relationship SHOULD be – accepting each other for their flaws and imperfections and relishing in “feeling overexposed” in the relationship. The track truly plays into that notion that if you really care about the people you surround yourself with then you should be your complete and honest self, or in this case ‘naked.’
The remainder of VHS consists of an array of songs that show more of what X Ambassadors has to offer, which includes another collaboration with Jamie N Commons and having Imagine Dragons featured on “Fear.” The only suggestion that I have for this album is that there needs to be a little less interlude action because half of the album is filled with them. The band’s first full length major label release VHS is creative, gritty, enlightening and completely the band’s own. X Ambassadors are so much more than a replica.
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