The Audition - Champion
Record Label: Victory Records
Release Date: January 22, 2008
Believe it or not, a time existed before computers and Microsoft Word. Yes, years ago people actually wrote with pencils and paper. In light of this epiphany, I’ve decided to try it. I don’t know if scrawling my notes on a Mead composition notebook with a blue Pilot G-2 pen will change my perspective on Champion, the newest release from the Chicago based pop-rock band, The Audition. What I do know is when The Audition hit the studio with producer John Naclerio (Brand New, My Chemical Romance), they had some big shoes to fill. Their 2005 Victory Records debut release of Controversy Loves Company was a hook-filled adventure that seemingly brought the scene to its knees with the band’s engaging sense of intuitiveness and melody.
At the time of the release of Controversy Loves Company, most of the band members were still in their teens. Now, almost three years later, the band has grown and matured. And although most wouldn't consider being 21 old (including me, I turn 22 in August), much can happen between the ages of 18 and 21 that may change one’s perspective on music. Fortunately for The Audition, they have taken those changes in stride.
Champion starts with “Basbhat,” a slower, mid-tempo jam that rocks with hints of synthesizer and fizzing guitar lines. Danny Stevens' crooning slightly reminds me of Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco—he has that hint of tilted sarcasm that has made Urie so famous. “Basbhat” is chased by the swaying “Warm Me Up” a guitar and drum driven song that again is plagued by a slower tempo, one major difference from the scorching Controversy Loves Company. “Heaven for the Weather,” however, showcases the talented songwriting of the band and had my head bobbing with guitarists’ Seth Johnson and Timmy Klepek catchy guitar writing; the groovy tracks “Edinboro” and “Hell to Sell” also push forward and continue the tradition of Johnson and Klepek’s bubbling guitar work. “Make It Rain,” however, shows some of the best songwriting on the record—it had me rocking out like an idiot on the bridge and smiling in appreciation on the verse.
No song on Champion, however, compares to “What Gets You Through the Night.” The band’s first attempt at ballad writing proves gratifying indeed. If any song were to make it to the radio, this would be it. Everything from the subtle guitar delay to the smooth transition from the chorus to the bridge shows The Audition have brushed up on their pop sensibilities, including Stevens who shows complete vocal control and tone.
When it comes down to it, one can only accept a pop rock record at face value. Rarely does a band come forward and offer much in the realm of originality when it comes to writing pop music, and that is to be expected. The primary purpose of a pop rock band is to provide a good hook, not reinvent the wheel. For The Audition, much of this is true. On Champion, The Audition haven’t reinvented themselves, nor have they outdone themselves either. Champion is a record that doesn’t offer much diversity, and at times fails to deliver complete satisfaction (“Shady Business”). Nevertheless, Stevens steals the show with his youth and excellence behind the band’s promising songwriting reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World and The Starting Line.
Although Champion may fall short of Controversy Loves Company, it shows a glint of hope for a band that has a long, bright future ahead of them, whether they are “champions” of the scene or not.
Champion has been an album that I listen to almost daily after getting it nearly a month ago. "Ether" and "Make It Rain" have been my favorites. I do agree that Controversy Loves Company was a difficult act to follow but that TheAudition did very well.