When the guitars first nibble their way out of the speakers — part-fretboard jock’s wet dream, part-power chords slalom — the music could go any way. But the moment Chris Daughtry — product of the unholy union of American Idol 2006 and an unnamed 90s emo rock tribute band — opens his rather big mouth, I, for one, know where this is heading: chicken coop rock.
Daughtry’s (the band) second album, Leave This Town, will undoubtedly be playing on heavy rotation in your local TGIF.
But once you’ve taken away the Long Island Ice Tea, this is what you’re likely to hear — an overemotive bunch of young grown-ups trying desperately to sound like rock stars but ending up sounding like an overemotive bunch of grown-ups trying desperately to sound like rock stars. ‘You don’t belong’ is straightforward Evanescence material without the faux Goth eyeliner. As the song Linkin Parks away into the super mall, we’re already in the ‘sensitive’ zone in ‘No surprise’.
Now, I don’t want to break the Daughtry mood here, but the utter cutie-pieness of it all is a cue for me to position myself before a wall — preferably made of cement — and bang that shiny head of frontman Chris Daughtry against it.
I guess for some, the words, “I been me/ I been followin’ my dreams/ Tryin’ to find the scene where you believed me”, are Shakespearean. But then, the words of ‘Every time you turn around’ are the finest things about it. ‘Life after you’ is another perfumed candle being burnt from all possible sides. And come to think of it, the music, pre-fab and desperate, sounds pretty much the same — ‘ra-ra with gentle touches’ — throughout. The Jon Bon Jovi in Chrissy boy comes out in ‘What I meant to say’ while ‘Open up your eyes’ is that popular sound-creature that makes young hips with half-sipped Breezer bottles hovering near them sway suggestively — that is, until they find solace in fusion-bhajans a few years down the line just before getting engaged.
I’m actually not going to talk about the other songs in this album. I get the nasty feeling that it won’t really matter what I say to those who have a Daughtry poster on their bedroom wall. Instead, I’ll deal with this strange paradox of how the cheesiest of ‘rock’ acts that sound leg-upwards like Creed and leg-downwards like some silly Danish band that rhymes ‘moon’ with ‘June’ (which is what happens in the track ‘Supernatural’) are so popular.
My theory is that with the basic guitar grr sound, a band like Daughtry clearly appears to be an un-Miley Cyrus band. But any young fool with a clean ear but dirty earbuds can hear that a song like ‘Ghost like me’ — with its sub-chorus, chorus, sub-chorus designer structure — really is a Miley Cyrus kind of number for post-pubescents. Daughtry, therefore, provides that incredibly important social service of making bed-wetters suddenly feel like hormonally happy youngsters with attih-chude.
As an end note, the saving grace is a nice, little acoustic ditty by the name of ‘Tennessee line.’ Right till the end where the dixie fiddles bring in an unexpected grace, I’m on the edge of my seat fearing that our far-too-cool-to-take-things-a-notch-down will start bellowing again. He doesn’t. I guess the Celine Dion people botoxing into middle age in the corner of the club may also care for this album.