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New Vertical Horizon release largely forgettable

Emily Tumbrink | Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Nearly three years after their multi-platinum major label debut Everything You Want, the guys from Vertical Horizon have finally decided to release another album. Due out on September 23rd, Go, the band’s sophomore attempt, shows that little has changed during that time. In the interview included in their press pack, lead singer Matt Scannell suggests that Vertical Horizon has matured as a band over the past few years. “With our last album, we still had some unanswered questions about what kind of band we wanted to be. We knew we were on a journey and wanted to keep developing. With this album, we’re more certain than ever of our direction and identity,” he said. But, after listening to their new album, the growth that Scannell hints at is seemingly nowhere to be found. That’s not to say that Vertical Horizon has released a terrible album, they simply remain the same derivative band found on Everything You Want, purloining elements from other bands’ music to create a sound that is largely forgettable.

Unfortunately for listeners, Go mirrors the same flawed approach that is found on Everything You Want. Once again, the band creates catchy and radio-friendly songs in the lukewarm rock or alterna-pop vein. Reminiscent of bands that were popular in the late 1990s, Vertical Horizon has been compared to REM, Live, and Matchbox 20, and also to newer bands like Lifehouse and Train, and these comparisons remain accurate on their new release.

With roots as a two person acoustic folk band formed during their undergraduate years at Georgetown, many longtime fans complained that Vertical Horizon had sold out with their largely electric debut release. The band’s first two independently released albums possessed a far different sound than the one present on either of Vertical Horizon’s RCA releases. The addition of two new members and a few more instruments has completely changed the style and genre of their music. Shifting to a much more streamlined and mainstream sound on their major label debut, Vertical Horizon gained numerous new listeners, while exploiting their original fan-base. The same can be said of Go, an album with a definite pop influenced sound, and no sense that the band was ever grouped in the folk rock genre.

While Vertical Horizon has successfully created a largely forgettable bunch of tracks, nothing about Go is bad or offensive beyond this fact. Those who enjoyed the singles from their previous release, “You’re a God,” “Everything You Want,” and “Gray Sky Morning,” will probably appreciate most of the tracks on the album. Most listeners, however, will be better off waiting for the singles from the album to be played to death on the radio, making the purchase of Go completely unnecessary. Either way, the songs on Go must be relegated to serving only as background music, as the tracks themselves are not interesting or exciting enough to merit a focused listen.