JamisonParker was one of MTV’s “New Faces” this year, which is kind of like Elton John singing your praises: It changes every week and is one of 43,221 names he’ll drop each year to show you that he’s hip and part of the “in” crowd. Regardless, now touring with the Juliana Theory after hitting the road in support of Sleepwalker this summer, Jamison Covington and Parker Case make songs that fit perfectly into the MTV format: trying to be alternative, but so produced that it makes you want to go to your drugstore and get some Gravol. As the opening song, which could have fallen off the turnip truck that is the soundtrack to The O.C., progresses, you get the sense that you’ve heard this song hundreds of times before. The tune, “Alcohol & Bandages”, is nice but nothing else, sort of like a song taken from the Cure’s rich catalog and bastardized eight or nine times. The chorus is Warped Tour-lite, lacking any real bite. It makes you want to sleepwalk through it.
Most of these songs here tend to find a chink in your armor, slowly but surely getting under your skin. “Best Mistake” is such an example, bringing to mind the Calling. The song has all the radio-friendly traits necessary as the singer downplays the lines in a hushed, almost heart-felt, teenage way. Think of Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley scrapping his band and venturing out on his own, serenading his belle, Avril. The power pop chorus is the moderately successful payoff, keeping your attention and causing some temporarily bobbing of the head. The first real song that hits the ground running and doesn’t slow down is “Goodbyes”. Which is complemented by an almost galloping beat and a meaty series of rock riffs, bringing to mind Weezer. The sweet harmonies and building chorus are all there for a rather joyful and pleasing four minutes of music.
The album ebbs and flows in terms of quality. After a breather dubbed “Tearing Through Me”, the record hits a wall when JamisonParker tear into the shambles that is “Paper, Rock, Scissors”. The tune tries to meld two, if not three, different aspects into one song. The result is a sound that is far too busy and complex for such a pop song. You have a rich orchestral feeling hovering over a roots vibe that is fleshed out with a simple pop arrangement. Just as mediocre is “Emergency Room Romantic”, which has more bark than bite as the lyrics talk about finding love in the emergency room.
The sleeper pick on the record is the power ballad-esque “Dusk, the Day After”, a piano-fuelled ditty that plods along, but works nicely nonetheless. From there, though, JamisonParker once again opt for the big, bombastic style on “Slow Suicide” that is a mixed blessing. It’s over-the-top at times despite the rather nice arrangement, much better than the languid and insipid “Here’s Everything I’ve Always Meant to Say”, which is far too long and far too melodramatic. When JamisonParker choose to do short, concise and focused power pop, they are very strong on songs that scream for radio play, like “The Here and Now”. But the album’s biggest problem is consistency. “Sleepwalker is a collection of well-crafted songs fitted with all manner of gorgeous sounds,” the liner notes in the advanced CD says. Or, to read between the lines, it’s unfocused.