Music reviews are curious things. First, some PR flack at a record label contacts the editor of a publication with a nauseatingly saccharine pitch about the wonderful band he or she is promoting. The editor then requests a CD—or, in the case of Hellogoodbye, a link to a music stream—and when it arrives, a reluctant and jaded writer gets stuck listening to it.
That’s basically what happened with Hellogoodbye’s latest album, “Would it Kill You?”
Surprisingly, it was good.
“Would it Kill You?” is a pop record, pure and simple, and is very well done. At times sounding like a less-manic Ted Leo and the Pharmacists record, the album blends nice vocal harmonies with upbeat melodies and deft synthesizer touches.
Forrest Kline and Jesse Kurvink formed Hellogoodbye in 2001 while they were still in high school. They played small local shows, put up a website, posted songs on mp3.com and started to build a following.
Their first EP, released in 2004, has sold more than 80,000 copies. The band followed it with a spot at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, and in 2006, released their first full-length album titled “Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!” They also played on the Vans Warped Tour. They had appearances on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Last Call with Carson Daly.” Kurvink left in 2008 to finish college.
Hellogoodbye is a business as much as it is a band. Kline revamped his garage-based recording studio in anticipation of recording “Would it Kill You?” with producer Matt Mahafey (Beck, Tenacious D). The band will release the album on their label, Wasted Summer.
Kline got engaged before he started writing the album and was married when the album finished. Not surprisingly, the lyrics center on love. While this is hardly a formula for original material, Kline pulls it off. The songs are peppy, upbeat and fun without being overly sweet.
A lot of promotional albums end up languishing in the used music section of record stores. This album is a keeper. It’s a good album to listen to on a gray Monday morning while driving to work or school.