Never Shout Never – What Is Love?
Release Date: January 26, 2010
Record Label: Sire/Warner Bros
AbsolutePunk users have given many reasons to despise Never Shout Never - his annoying fans, his hair, the ukulele, his quick rise to the majors, or because he spells it “Christofer.” And I’ll admit, I have never liked Christofer Drew’s (a.k.a Never Shout Never) music, mostly because it was cheesy, clichéd, and way too sugary. Then I gave his major label debut “album” (this is a stretch – eight tracks totaling 20 minutes makes it more of an EP, if anything), What Is Love?, a chance and, to my surprise, it’s not that bad. In fact, it may be my guilty pleasure of 2010.
So what changed? Well, Drew enlisted an excellent producer, Butch Walker, to helm the boards. He continued to smoke weed, tried LSD, and decided to become tough and drop a few f-bombs throughout What Is Love?. The biggest draw is the improved musicianship. Basically, What Is Love? is Drew trying to reinvent his music and image. His songs sound more fleshed out and layered, channeling scene darlings like The Format and Hellogoodbye on more than one occasion. “I Love You 5” is a page right out of Dog Problems. From the tempo to the use of strings and horns, it is the most infectious song on the album. Even the way the track builds up is reminiscent of The Format.
“Love Is Our Weapon” will instantly get your foot tapping, while the folksy “Jane Doe” could be mistaken for a Jason Mraz song. “California” might be the best track on What Is Love?. The la-la-la’s will keep the track in your head, while the composition gives it substance. The title track is fairly aggressive for Never Shout Never, while the longest track, “The Past,” is saved for last. Drew once again brings in the strings to make the song a bit more dramatic, and they are very well done.
However, the lyrics and vocals are the Achilles' heel of What Is Love?. Drew’s voice isn’t necessarily grating – it has improved from his early work – but it isn’t always appealing to the ears throughout the album. The biggest setback is the lyrics though. Once again, they are a step up from previous work, but Drew continues to focus too much on one topic, thus making his words very one-dimensional. Add in the out-of-place cussing and some cringe worthy lines (yes, he does say "super-duper cute." To make matters worse, he says it more than once), you have a lot of room for improvement.
But, despite those flaws, What Is Love? is a very enjoyable record and a lot better than what I expected. Christofer Drew has given his listeners a taste of his potential, because, musically, he knows what he is doing. Put any other name from the genre to the song structures and compositions, and AbsolutePunk would immensely love this. But Never Shout Never still has a negative stigma attached to its name. With What Is Love?, Christofer Drew has begun to chip away at that.
I saw your tweet about this being your "guilty pleasure of 2010" and was a little curious. So I listened. The music itself isn't bad by any means, and the production is seriously top-notch. Although his voice was a bit grating in a few spots, it was bearable.
But the lyrics. Oh, the lyrics. I had to hit "next" on a handful of the songs because they were so awful. I listen to a lot of pop punk, so lyrics definitely aren't normally a deciding factor for me. But these made it unlistenable.
Damn, 20 minutes? That's crazy... I'm still debating on buying this. I have heard some songs and they're alright. The title track is the one I most like. Hopefully this will change some people's opinions of him.
I might have to give this a listen because Butch produced it. The Format similarities are intriguing.
I also might have to take some LSD first.
I don't know why exactly, but Christofer Drew's vocals are much more annoying to me compared to Nate Ruess's. And sometimes or most of the time, it seems like he's trying too hard to be The Format. I can't like this album but maybe his next one will be better
I might be weird, but I like this album less than his first effort The Yippee EP. Maybe it's because his sappy love ditties clog my arteries, or maybe it's because I really hate the song Sacrilegious, but this album bugs me too much to enjoy the high points. And it definitely ain't no Format, that's for damn sure.