Monday, September 9, 2019

Album Review: From the Outside by Hey Violet

I have a confession to make. You see, when I came up with the idea to review every CD I own, I decided those reviews would be in a completely random order. After my collection was sufficiently shuffled in my spreadsheet and after I committed to reviewing them in that order, I came across two problems. First, I didn't want to review Christmas albums in any other month than December, which was easy to fix. But then, to my horror, I realized that my favorite CD I owned would be one of the last on my list.

This injustice could not stand.

I feel really, really guilty, but I let this one CD cut in line. That's just how much I love Hey Violet's 2017 debut album From the Outside.

From the Outside, of course, is the band's first album under the name Hey Violet, but not technically their first album. In 2012, the band that would become Hey Violet- then called Cherri Bomb- released This Is The End of Control, which is brilliant but not a part of my CD collection. Like many bands, Hey Violet took a few releases to really come into their own. They've definitely matured a lot since This Is The End of Control and From the Outside, but there's no question that there was something special happening in 2017, despite the changing lineups.

One of the my favorite things in music is energy. It's hard to describe precisely, but when it's there you feel it. From the Outside has energy, excitement, immaturity, passion... the list goes on. I've already written an essay before about this album's lyrics and how they both satirize and acknowledge the enjoyment of party culture. Every song makes perfect sense taken on face value, but there's more to them than that when you look below the surface. From the Outside is fundamentally an album about acceptance, community, and wanting life to be better than it is- themes that I really resonate with, personally.

I would describe the style of the music as pop rock, with an emphasis on the pop. One of my complaints about pop music in recent years is that it seems to have lost a bit of the edge that I like, which is a completely justifiable artistic choice that I just don't prefer. I love brighter sounds- harsher synths, crunchier guitars, heavier beats, louder singing, and so forth. From the Outside is basically my ideal pop sound. It makes me sad that Hey Violet is mellowing out with their new singles, but of course they don't have any obligation to only make music the way they used to.

Hey Violet first crossed my musical radar on November 24, 2018. It was a time in my life when I absolutely needed music to deeply relate to, and Hey Violet was that band I needed. Even now, listening to this album brings me back to how I felt then. I was in a new relationship I knew wasn't going to last much longer. I was stressed and barely functioning. The only thing that kept me going was passionate love for all the new music that I was finding. I wanted stuff free from the emotional baggage I had associated with my old favorite bands, so I was on the hunt for new bands I had never heard of before. I think "Guys My Age" was the first song I heard from Hey Violet, and I was hooked from the beginning. Before long, From the Outside had usurped ...And Justice for All as my favorite album, and that meant I really didn't have a choice.

I had to buy that CD.

Without any hesitation, I give From the Outside five stars out of five, and my favorite track is O.D.D.

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