So I've always liked the Plain White T's. They're upper-middle class in the rocking hierarchy of my mind (of Science!), for a number of reasons—firstly, they're catchy, while maintaining some depth. They write songs that get stuck in your head, not only for the lyrics, but for the lyrics' meaning. At a time when it's chic to simply arrange words that sound funny and then mumble them into your mic, to get lost in the distortion of your guitar, it's nice to hear songs that resonate with you, in a "life can be... hmmm sometimes" way, instead of an "Oh my god, this song is about me and my two-week relationship!" way. In addition to being pop-punk without being vapid, I also like the fact that they're marketably upbeat about it all. As I once heard Plain White T's (and punk pop in general) described, it's emo on Prozac. And I'm into that.
        So now I've revealed my bias for the band. I quite liked what I heard from
All That We Needed, and was pleased when their newest release, the EP Hey There Delilah, came across my path. I'd heard some of their previous work, as well as demos of songs from Delilah, here and there, and I was eager to see how things'd come together.
        It's a bit different than I'd expected; "Losing Myself" and the refurbished "Hey There Delilah" stuck out at me most, as having changed significantly from the last versions I'd heard of them. They've slowed slightly, and the hard, choppiness of "Losing Myself," as I last heard it on Purevolume a few months ago, has been smoothed out somewhat, softening the tension that the lyrics have and which the guitar used to beat into you; "Hey There, Delilah", on the other hand, seems muted slightly, making it sound more distant and disconnected, in contrast with the crooning sensation it had in its
All That We Needed version. Perhaps, as one of my acquaintances pointed out, this mellower feel was due in part to having Sean O'Keefe—who has worked with a number of other bands on the Fearless label—as producer for this CD.
        I was, I admit, a bit downcast that not only was "Delilah" being repeated for this album, but it was being repeated twice. I got over it, though; the song, in its new format and accompanied by the live recording, very much sets the theme and tone of the EP. The album is a collection of more focused songs—I won't say that they seem sedated, as the live "Delilah" reasserts PWT's open, likeable style—that contrast with older tracks like "Take Me Away" and "Revenge", which are more emotionally than contemplatively driven. Just look at "If I Told You" (
Delilah) alongside "Take Me Away" (Needed), for instance. "Take Me Away" is an explosion of emotion, covering with conviction what it lacks in depth. "If I Told You,” on the other hand, is cleverer, with more complex lyrics and a more unusual, more complicated, but equally catchy melody.
        So you'll see some new stuff here—despite the fact that two of the songs are "Hey There Delilah," we're past that now, right?—but I think it's all good. I really liked the older, more emotional approach, but as I disclaimed earlier, the Plain White T's have by no means become dull. They've come out with a good album of more complex, some might say more evolved songs, and I think that they're just as damn fine as ever.
...
A.F. '06
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       HEY THERE DELILAH
       
Fearless Records

1) Hey There Delilah
2) Easy Way Out
<< 3) Down the Road >>
4) Losing Myself
5) If I Told You
6) Hey There Delilah (live)
+CD-ROM Videos
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Band Website