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Hopeful Nevertheless struggles on debut album

Marty Schroeder | Thursday, September 21, 2006

There was a train of cookie cutter pop-punk that stormed through the highways of musicdom in the early 2000s – Nevertheless missed the train and hopped on the midnight bus.

If only they had never gotten on.

Their debut album, “Live Like We’re Alive,” is perfect example of post-pop-punk rock, which is to say, not very good. The lyrics are chock full of emotion to the point of bored tears, the guitars want to crunch but the veneer of the production is like a delicious cake with horrible frosting – bringing complete ruination to something that could have been good.

The singer attempts to move through a range that he doesn’t come close to possessing. With only a few tracks which come close to something decent, this album is a death knell for a band just getting off the ground.

From Chattanooga, Tenn., Nevertheless claims that the purpose of their band is hope. On their website, frontman Josh Pearson says, “These aren’t just songs to soothe breakup sores or feed the fires of crushes; they are also songs to mend deeper wounds.”

He is referring here to the spiritual side of Nevertheless’ lyrics. Taking a note from such bands as Relient K and some early MxPx, Nevertheless includes references to their faith in God and how they bring that to the rest of their lives. This is all well and good. Many people immediately discredit a band that has religious overtones in their lyrics, but it can be done well.

The ska band Five Iron Frenzy was a perfect example of how religion and alternative music can meld into a very entertaining, thought provoking and cohesive whole. However, Nevertheless has none of these qualities. The lyrics are simple, there is very little diversity in their sound, and the excessive layers of polish they put on this album saps out any innate creativity the members of this quintet have.

One of the problems with this album arises from the song writing. Kevin Kadish, who has written with and/or for Rob Thomas and Jason Mraz, helped write several of the tracks. When bands bring in people to help write the lyrics, the slope becomes very slippery. Instead of the lyrics they want, many of the songs sound like poppy flotsam and jetsam that needs sifting through to find where the band is in this album.

All this aside, there are a couple of tracks that show signs of potential for its second album. The first track, “The Real,” is one of the songs where any semblance of punk comes through. This isn’t to say it is a punk song – it isn’t, but the guitars are allowed to run free a bit more than in the rest of the tracks giving it a bit more of the dynamism that the other tracks lack.

“Lover” is probably the worst track merely because it tries too hard to be deep and meaningful. The lyrics mean well – but St. Paul did it better 2000 years ago – and the music is bloated. A piano is used which the song could do without, while Pearson’s vocals are too “little boy” sounding with no emotional rawness.

On their website, the band claims that the key word for this album is hope. However, the hope they’re talking about is not the same kind most people will have when they listen to this album – hope that the next one is better.

Nevertheless needs to head back to the drawing board, strip down their music and then they might have something that resembles real emotion and music.