[15 December 2009]
I Can’t Die in L.A., Hail the Size’s full-length debut, is full of sturdy, listenable country-rock. The group is actually the songwriting duo of Charles Ezell (vocals, guitar) and Matt North (drums), but the album is a full-band effort. Singer/pianist Maria McKee is present on most of the tracks, providing some excellent harmonies, while guitarist Carey Fosse plays most of the leads. The songs are very good, putting the focus on Ezell (and McKee)‘s vocals, while backing them up with robust arrangements. Despite the title track’s insistence of disliking L.A., the album sounds polished and slick like its namesake; there isn’t much grit to be found.
Ezell wants his lyrics to be clever, but they often cross the line into self-impressed. “Crazy Girl” offers the refrain: “She’s a crazy girl / From crazy girl world / She’ll make you crazy / Just give her a whirl,” while “Hail Mary” leans so heavily on its football metaphors that the underlying point of a crumbling relationship is almost completely buried. The band also tends to fall back on obvious rhymes that end up sounding awkward such as referring to the massive Los Angeles area as a “beautiful spot” in order to rhyme it with “sunny and hot.” These contrivances don’t ruin the fun, though, which is enough to make I Can’t Die in LA memorable—even if it isn’t quite distinctive enough to separate it from the country-rock pack.