One Night Only recently released their eponymous sophomore album (23 August 2010 in the UK, 7 September 2010 USA as import); somewhere between 80s new wave and current indie clichés, this album is going to be a love it or hate it faire, and I for one am loving it. There is nothing on this album that has not been done before; I for one could even start posting links to songs this year that follow similar formats. But if we put aside the 80s burnout (yes, even I am starting to burn out on all this 80s revival!), this is done so much better than others. The gist of it all is in the mix of influences and references.
The first track on the album is also the lead single, “Say You Don’t Want It.” I am going to be lazy about this one: this is late 80s Xymox gone indie pop. There is an air of ambience and synth savvy, all the time the eye is kept on the rhythm. The song is about demanding a rejection of what money can buy, from “your wives” to “classic cars,” from “the brand designs” to “the picture-book girls.” Considering that this rock-singer is dating a silver screen actress, it may sound a bit disingenuous when he sings, “The big screens and the plastic-made dreams… say you don’t want it, say you don’t want it.” But these criticisms fall aside when you realize that though this track has all the makings of an anthem, it is not; instead, it is a solid way to draw you right in – something about the repetition of “say you don’t want it” sticks in your head.
We can easily divide this album in two – we can imagine an old vinyl. Part one (our metaphoric A-side) is the indie faire, led by “Say You Don’t Want It,” then the Britpop “Bring Me Back Down” to “Forget My Name” – the most bubbly song on the album, even though it sports out one of the “toughest” guitar rifts on the album and an odd lead vocal arrangement in the chorus, which only adds to remembrance of it all. Part two (our metaphoric B-side, and usually the side I loved the most in the 80s!) is led by “All I Want” – bass and guitar driven, with amazing synth arrangements competing for dominance of the song, this is a song that is going to explode live. But this part/side gets really interesting when you get to “Anything.” Again the vying between guitars and synths, but this is a sexiest song on the album. But the showstopper is “Nothing Left.” This is one of those tracks when a band throws many different ingredients into the mix, many of which may not normally be compatible, and what you get is amazing song that makes you feel like you are fluttering around on turbulent air.
With a bit of irony, the final track is “Can’t Stop Now” – but it will be in under four-and-a-half. This is the one song that really approaches anthem: “Rooms burns, cherry-red, the jealous eyes, the rumours spread, you’re safe in here. You whisper soft, “If they could see us now.” Don’t despair, you can’t give up; they’ll hunt us down, they’ll catch us up, we can’t stop now! We won’t stop now!” Starting very “synthetic” in sounds, eventually the beat drops into an orgiastic ostinato, and then big guitars. But it closes with a piano – a subtle piano lamenting.
My only substantial criticism of this album, which almost becomes trivial, is that I would have arranged the songs differently on the album. Personally, I would have placed “Never Be The Same” as the first track. It’s subtle synth / vocal intro is hauntingly alluring, and, when the beat finally drops, the track evolves into a pensively and viscerally attractive song. And it is that sort of universal song, albeit sad, that anyone who has lost love can relate to: “All alone you count the days, and all you know just flies away. All in favour scream it wide, just plead your heard to love or cry and say goodbye.” Nevertheless, regardless of what the naysayers say, of which I count many amongst my own personal friends, “One Night Only” is a solid sophomore album. If One Night Only is not part of the hype-machine, they may want to be thankful about that.
1. Say You Don’t Want It
2. Bring Me Back Down
3. Forget My Name
5. Never Be The Same
6. All I Want
7. Got It All Wrong
9. Nothing Left
10. Feeling Fine
11. Can’t Stop Now
Keep up with One Night Only at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here is the video for “Say You Don’t Want It” from their YouTube Channel: onenightonlyonline.