22-20s continue to provide solid songs on their latest release.
On their most recent release, Got It If You Want It, 22-20s pay tribute to their influences throughout nearly every track on the record but fail to emerge as their own band. It’s not an uncommon problem but it’s rarely as prevalent and as evident as it is here. Worse yet is the bands tendency to drag perfectly fine songs a minute and half too long and dull their impact in doing so. Now, that’s not to say these songs are bad because by and large they’re solid throughout. They’ve got all the classic elements of great songs, it’s just that there’s really nothing new or exciting going on in them which forces the sound into something that comes off like true retread more than playful re-invention.
There’s no doubt in my mind that 22-20s are talented enough to pull off just about any sound they want so it can become really frustrating to hear them settle on merely “good”. None of the songs on Got It If You Want It are standout songs. Instead, they’re songs that sound good but tremendously over-familiar. Most of their influences are easy to pick out over the course of any given song because they’re the kind of bands that influence next to everyone (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, MC5, U2, Jesus and Mary Chain). Which makes it strange that 22-20s are at their most intriguing while channeling and implementing the psychedelic flourishes of late Beatles work.
While it’s true that none of the individual songs stand out on Got It If You Want It as individual highlights, there’s several that are filled with standout moments. Usually, they’re the moments that play on 22-20s psych-pop influences like the syncopation and slide guitar on “White Lines” and the shuffling drums and bell taps on “Little Soldiers”. However, these two tracks also serve ultimately as platforms for the vocal performances, which are all fine. They’re tight in control, composition, and melody but bring the focus back to what plagues the record most: over-familiarization. Their frontman’s vocals fall half-way between Bono and Matt Vasquez giving the listener the allusion they’re already familiar with 22-20s yet again.
Perhaps 22-20s closest relatives are Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. However, BRMC have channeled their sounds into unique and complete sounding albums over the years, Howl in particular, which is something that 22-20s haven’t quite gotten a hold on thus far. While Got It If You Want It certainly feels complete (perhaps even too complete), it doesn’t have that sense of originality or urgency that could have elevated the songs here to greater heights than the standard they settle for. All these songs are classifiable as good songs but they never really uncoil into something all that worthy of attention. Yes, they’re well-crafted and have some small moments of interest but they got bogged down in length and quickly nullify that interest, time and time again.
Ultimately, while Got It If You Want It is a solid albeit needlessly over-stuffed album, it succeeds in committing itself to its own standards. It succeeds in channeling influences. Most importantly, it succeeds in channeling the right influences in the right way. While it may not stand out, it’s hard to argue a tried-and-true formula apart from the lack of originality but its much easier to applaud a faithful recreation of the right influences over a seriously misguided attempt at reinvention. Got It If You Want It is by no means a great album but it does serve as a pleasant reminder of some of the greats and inject hope that some of these influences will last for decades to come.