| Before you look at the album cover in disdain, listen to the first 30 seconds of the first song, and dismiss Louis James as a run-of-the-mill wannabe (like I almost did), there is something you should know: this guy is 18 years old. That’s not much older than most of the people that will be reading this review. During an argument over whether or not cheerleading was a sport, my history teacher remarked, “I can’t flip and dance and jump around for an entire football game… I don’t have that spirit or stamina. There’s no way I could do what you guys do. Who am I to criticize?”
Louis James has been compared frequently to The Rocket Summer, which I think is a bit unfair, given that Bryce Avary has been being godly for about eight years and running. Then take into consideration that Bryce recently released his second full-length album, whereas So Unreal is Louis’ seven-song debut. Yeah… more than a bit unfair. Now, however, compare Louis to most 18-year-olds you know who write and play their own music, have recently released their first album, and are currently touring the southwest, and you’ll see why I went from being harshly critical to quite impressed.
The songs are fresh and fun with a sharp acoustic edge. The acoustic guitar is strategically substituted in where heavy guitar may also have been used; this makes the song lighter, more summery. Yes, they’re love songs, but they’ve got more depth than anything you’ll hear played at a high school dance, which something you can’t say about every band on the front page of Purevolume these days. The lyrics are straightforward and poetic, simply and saccharinely so. The keyboards, percussion, and synths come together smoothly to add pizzazz to the fast songs. Any notions or hesitations you may have about sitting yourself down to listen to and really enjoy the slow songs (boring and unfulfilling as you may have already labeled them in your mind) are dispelled with the sheer quality of Louis’ heartfelt singing and strumming. This album is the sort of thing I’d love to have playing on my car’s ancient speakers while I drive to the beach with my windows down. The songs give off this pleasant, squishy, first-day-of-vacation vibe, and you come away from listening feeling really refreshed and bright-eyed.
And just think, this is only his debut! Give him a year or two to catch up, and I’m sure Louis will be giving Bryce a run for his money, if he’s not already opening for him or on the same record label. Louis is a fresh, welcomed face among the somber, screaming, mass-produced bands that have been running amuck lately. He embodies potential and if he keeps up the great, hard work he’s already put into So Unreal, I’m sure he’ll have no problem making a name for himself in the near future.
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| SO UNREAL
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1) Tomorrow's Velvet Sky
<< 2) So Cal Girl >>
3) The Way You Did
4) So Unreal
5) The One
6) Beautiful Reality
7) I'll Be There