Plain White T's Return With Fan Centered 'American Nights'
Plain White T’s make a swift return to the music scene with 'American Nights'. Just in case you need a reminder, these are the guys that struck a chord and major indie hit back in 2007 with "Hey There Delilah". Since then, they’ve released three albums and an impending fourth release in the case of 'American Nights', but things are different this time around.
Firstly, the album was supported by fans and alike all around the world via PledgeMusic, which is a great way for non-commercial artists who fall into the commercial world to simply make music and tour and not worry about whether their single will sell, or not. It is a platform that has worked for Kate Nash, Alexz Johnson, Macy Gray and so on... even the film industry has benefited from the platform (See... Veronica Mars).
As for most, this format has given the group much more freedom to experiment with their sound and lyrics, something that is very evident on the album. Tracks like "Someday You’re Gonna Love Me" and "Here Comes The Sunrise" feel like the group have paid a visit to Nashville and soaked up the scene there, my point? They feel Country and it really works for the group.
Lyrically, the album delves into various areas, we have the empowering lead single "Pause" which literally refers to living life in the moment, sung over a selection of electric guitars and reveling like a 90s movie soundtrack and on the flip-side we have a Beach Boys inspired "Heavy Rotation" which introduces the listener to Jackie, a girl who has a lot of friends and these friends “have songs in rotation on the radio”... is Jackie our next Delilah? This 90s movie soundtrack sound is also evident in title track "American Nights", which is simply a fun track that you’re going to want to hear blasted loudly in the summertime.
The eclectic sound of "American Nights" really works for the group, who are best known for their stripped back acoustic sound, a sound which is only hinted at on the record, for example the poignant break-up ballads "You Belong" and "Stay". Both giving us moments of old school Plain White T’s, with the latter pleading “why don’t you just stay?” Both songs give the listener a moment of vulnerability, and whilst there are hints of break-ups on the title track, these two songs are more poignant because of the nature of their tempo. Slower and ready for the crowd to get their lighters out. There’s almost a sigh of relief when the interestingly placed "Dance Off Time" comes in, the song itself is pure fun and you can see it being a big number at a live venue. Think Mumford and Sons "Little Lion Man".
Even though Tom Higgenson says the album “really focuses on being present and concentrating on what’s happening now instead of what might happen tomorrow”, it seems that the album is a consistently reflective album on previous relationship mess ups. There seems a constant theme, as he mentions, of living life in the present and in terms of artistic growth, it seems the best thing for the group was to distant themselves from a mainstream circa and make the music they wanted to make with no artistic boundaries and no worries about what is going to be a single. 'American Nights' feels like the band are starting over and it ticks all the right boxes.
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Words by Daniel John Sado