Hellogoodbye’s latest record feels like it rode in on a Californian breeze. It’s been a few years since the band released an album and as fresh as this one is, it also feels like the soundtrack to The O.C., or The Killerscirca 2006.

This is definitely not a bad thing. Fans of Hellogoodbye’s debut Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! will remember they were labelled emo-pop and had a penchant for the vocoder and Auto-Tune. After a lawsuit and a lineup shuffle, frontman Forrest Kline shook things up and shoved the electronica (mostly) aside, producing Would It Kill You? Now, Everything Is Debatable toes the line between the first two albums, and it’s preferable to both of them.

 

It still has the pacey riffs and electronic depths and quirks, but it feels a little more mature both sonically and lyrically. This is most evident in ‘Just Don’t Let Go Just Don’t’,which strikes a fine balance of strong vocals with a smattering of layered effects.

 

It is refreshing to hear pop music you can move to told through stories that meander between vague recollections and deep reflections. Actually, much of it feels like it was written nursing a hangover on a Sunday afternoon and contemplating life. This leads to it feeling suspended in particular moments and memories. Take ‘(Everything Is) Debatable’ –“So I wanted her to feel the breeze just blowing though the trees / A ghost of something in our love that we don’t yet know”; or ‘The Magic Hour Is Now’ –“I need to see a sunset so I can give my eyes the sense that something in the world will end”.

 

The CD booklet’s pop art-style photomontages and typeset lyrics are exemplary of an album that has been carefully produced with an ideal listener in mind. In all, this puts Hellogoodbye at the top of their game.

 

4/5 stars

 

BY CAROL HUCKSTEP

 

 

Everything Is Debatable is out now through Old Friends/Shock.

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