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A Departure From the Usual Script
The Script - The Script
Member Name: Hishyeness
The Script - The Script
Date: 19/03/10, updated on 19/03/10 (178 review reads)
Advantages: The stand-out tracks have real star quality
Disadvantages: Some songs are a bit samey and underwhelming
DEPARTING FROM THE SCRIPT
As I approach my forties, I am fast becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, getting more and more set in my musical tastes. These days I much prefer to revel in the comfortable nostalgia of the bands and musicians of my youth, while eschewing new acts with the passion of someone convinced that the best days of music are firmly in the past. In other words, I am beginning to act like my Dad.
Fortunately, every now and again I hear a snippet of something new that inspires me enough to cut through my self-induced inertia. My introduction to The Script came through their excellent smash hit single "The Man Who Can't Be Moved", which impressed me enough that I went to my MP3 site of choice to download it to my iPod.
The great advantage of buying music these days is that you can usually listen to thirty second snippets of the whole album before committing to buy. The advent of music downloads has fortunately made buying music much more risk-free. Gone are the days where your CD-rack at home was cluttered with one hit wonders whose one glittering contribution was unfortunately tarnished by nine or ten other tracks of utter crap.
In any event, emboldened by the success of the single, I listened to a few more tracks, and when I saw that I could get the whole album in CD form for not much more than the download price of the four songs that I really liked, I decided buy the whole album.
ABOUT THE BAND
The Script are a three piece ensemble, often erroneously described as a Celtic pop rock band. That suggests that their music is influenced by their Irish roots, rather like the Corrs, but nothing could be further from reality. In fact, their sound has more of an R&B feel to it, and it's actually quite a challenge to discern any Irish accent or influence in the vocals or instrumentation. The band readily acknowledges the American black music scene as an important influence in their early days.
The Script consists of singer-songwriter Danny O'Donoghue who also takes the lead on keyboards, Mark Sheehan on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Glen Power on percussion, backing vocals and rhythm guitar. If you are looking for musical comparables, think Maroon 5 with a touch of David Gray. Those into the likes of Paolo Nutini and James Blunt would probably find some similarities in sound as well.
THE EPONYMOUS ALBUM
The Script released their debut album of the same name in August 2008. The album release was preceded by two singles "We Cry" in April 2008 and "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" in July, with the latter peaking at No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart and providing the momentum for their album release. Three further singles have followed - "Breakeven" in November 2008, "Talk You Down" in March 2009 and "Before The Worst" in July 2009. The album proved to be both a popular and commercial success, earning the band the opportunity to support concerts by Irish legends U2 (at Dublin's Croke Park) and Sir Paul McCartney (at New York's Citi Field).
The album is readily available in both CD (£4.99 from Amazon) and download formats (unusually dearer at £5.99 from Amazon). The CD version, when inserted into your PC, provides access to an exclusive mini album web-site with a welcome message from the band, video versions of some of the singles, in depth interviews about the songs, and one or two live audio recordings from recent concerts. Given there is little difference in price between the two formats, the extra content makes the relatively longer wait for the CD well worth it.
> We Cry
The first single from the album is a good introduction to "The Script" sound. If you knew about the band's "Celtic" origins, on first listen, you'd be forgiven for doing a double take. The song is very much a hip hop inspired paen to the clash between youthful dreams and harsh reality told intelligently through a number of short vignettes - a struggling single mother, a wasted musical talent, and a career woman whose ambitions are derailed by marriage and kids. O'Donoghue has a distinct voice with a slightly raw, gravely quality to it and he delivers the song with a maturity and confidence that seems like it belongs more to the streets of New York than Dublin. Despite this incongruity, it's easy to see why the music world sat up and took notice at this fine debut.
"Jenny was a poor girl, living in a rich world, named her baby Hope when she was just fourteen. She was hoping for a better world for this little girl, but the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. When she gets that call, Hope's too far gone, her baby's on the way, with nothing left inside. Together we cry."
> Before The Worst
The second song on the album starts off with something of a mellow piano overture before the percussion kicks in to give the song drive. The instrumentation sets the stage for and complements O'Donoghue's rapid fire vocals, giving the song a soaring quality that seems totally at odds with its subject matter. The album has several recurring themes, featuring a number of songs which address the pain, regret and loss of broken relationships. This track, a reflection on a lost future together ("let's try to take it back to before it all went wrong") is full of earnestness and raw energy.
"There was a time that we'd stay up all night, best friends talking till the daylight. Took the joys alongside the pain, with not much to lose, but so much to gain..."
> The Man Who Can't Be Moved
This is simply a beautiful and brilliant song, simple in composition, uncomplicated in instrumentation, but delivered with a depth of passion that succeeds in putting you in the shoes of the narrator. By rights, the song should be depressingly heart-breaking, but O'Donoghue imparts a hopeless optimism into his vocals and lyrics that demands empathy.
With its unassuming intro of plucked guitars, we are introduced to the story about a man who cannot move on and come to terms with the end of a relationship with a woman he was obviously deeply in love with. So he decides he is going to go back to the corner where they first met, and wait - however long it takes - for her to turn up, hoping against hope that she realises what she is missing and returns to find him.
The song works so well because it is an astute observation of human nature, a reflection of how the listener has probably felt at one time or another in a similar situation. The story the song tells may be an extreme example, but who hasn't taken a particular route home, frequented a particular haunt, or gone out of their way to do something to try and find what they have lost?
"Cause if one day you wake up and find you're missing me, and your heart starts to wonder where on this earth I could be, (I'm) thinking maybe you'll come back here to the place that we'd meet, and you'll see me waiting for you on our corner of the street..."
This is probably my second favourite song on the album, and another of the band's successful singles. The song is a brilliantly observed piece about breaking up, this time reflecting on when a relationship ends, someone always ends up with the bigger portion of hurt. It's a simple concept, but one I had never thought through until I listened to this song.
Some comedians have a way of getting laughs out of simple, observational comedy based on things we can easily relate to. The Script have a similar talent for connecting with their audience, by telling simple stories which the listener can relate to and empathise with.
"What am I supposed to do when the best part of me was always you? What am I supposed to say when I'm all choked up and you're OK. I'm falling to pieces (one still in love while the other ones leaving, 'cos when a heart breaks it don't breakeven)..."
> If You See Kay
Another hip-hop inspired song which I have only really included because of the cheeky title and chorus. Say it quickly and you'll see what I mean. The song itself is not really a stand-out, with little to distinguish it from other tracks on the album. It almost feels like it started as a joke which then became the idea for a song, but at three minutes long it gets old way before it finishes.
"If you see Kay, will you tell her that I love her? And if you see Kay, let her know I want her back. If she listens, say that I'm missing everything about her. Make sure you say, I'm sweet FA without her..."
> I'm Yours
Fortunately, the next song is an outstanding ballad with little but O'Donoghue's stand-out vocals and acoustic guitar to carry it - but carry it he does. It reminds me a little bit of 80's band Extreme's "More Than Words" in its tenor and delivery (but not the lyrics). It's a touching song about a guy who recognises he has shortcomings and is far from perfect, but even with his rough edges and feelings of inadequacy, his love for his girl cannot be matched by anyone else.
"You touch these tired eyes of mine and map my face out line by line, and somehow growing old feels fine. I listen close, for I'm not smart, you wrap your thoughts in works of art and they're hanging on the walls of my heart..."
Unfortunately, the album suffers from something of a lack of consistency. There are some outstanding tracks that offer something new and fresh, both in terms of style and lyrics, but there is also some very average material that doesn't reach nearly the same standard. In fact, the released singles aside, only "I'm Yours" smacks of any real quality, with some of the other tracks - especially "If You See Kay" and "Fall For Anything" sounding like they have been done before - on the same album.
O'Donoghue's voice is the kind that tends to polarise listeners - some will love it, whole others will be irritated by it. Indeed, some may find the incongruity of a Dublin-born Irish kid imitating the style of an East Coast hip-hop artist too much of a stretch of credibility, but in my view, that would be short-sighted. On balance, The Script have delivered a very solid debut with some intelligently constructed songs. The fact that the cost of cherry-picking the six best tracks as stand-alone MP3's is the same as buying the album makes it excellent value, despite the few that let the side down.
FULL TRACK LISTING
1. We Cry
2. Before The Worst
3. Talk You Down
4. Man Who Can't Be Moved
6. Rusty Halo
7. End Where I Begin
8. Fall For Anything
9. If You See Kay
10. I'm Yours
11. Anybody There
© Hishyeness 2010
Summary: On balance, a memorable début.