John Vesely’s second album finds him supported by a full band this time around. And with the production help of Butch Walker and Danny Lohner, Secondhand Serenade sounds first rate for the Warped Tour tween or teen demographic. That’s not to say that everything sounds original or unpolished. In fact “Like a Knife” sounds like something Angels & Airwaves tossed aside at the last minute before their latest record. It’s good but it’s been done to death, an earnest attempt at rock that is terribly telegraphed. The same can be said for the emo-saturated “Fall For You” which brings to mind Simple Plan. Alienation and angst is the order of most of the songs, including the melodramatic “Maybe” and the equally safe and heartfelt “Your Call”. The biggest snag here is how so much of Vesely’s performances seem interchangeable, the only aberration from this is “Suppose” which has a certain melodic, Smashing Pumpkins hue to it. Vesely yet again wears his heart on his sleeve during “Why”, but by this point, one wonders why he has not occasionally challenged himself or the listener.
// Notes from the Road
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