Friday, June 28, 2024

Album Review: AFTERTASTE by Hey Violet


It's been a few years since I last did an album review, but I've been thinking about bringing them back. Today's release of AFTERTASTE by Hey Violet gives me a perfect excuse to bring this format back to my blog.

Previously, I reviewed Hey Violet's first album under that name, From the Outside. That album is one of my favorites of all time, so of course I had been waiting for a follow up album ever since. What I didn't know at the time was that it would be a seven year wait for Hey Violet's follow up album.

Hey Violet released a few EPs and plenty of singles in that time, but I am an album lover. It's not like those releases were bad or anything, but an album has some extra weight to it. There's a prestige to an album that an EP or single doesn't have. AFTERTASTE being an album puts it on a pedestal along with From the Outside and The Edge of Control in a way that those other releases won't be. Leading up to the release, I was a little bit worried that AFTERTASTE wouldn't stack up. And with this being release day as I'm writing this, I've only heard the album a couple times. My opinion could change in the years to come. But on day one, I think this is a fitting final album for Hey Violet. Yeah, I found out this would be Hey Violet's final album shortly before it came out. That sucks a bit as a big fan of the band but I'm happy we at least get one final album after all this time.

Musically, AFTERTASTE is much more mature than either of the previous two albums by the band. From the Outside was a dramatic departure from the style of The Edge of Control, but AFTERTASTE seems to bridge the earlier two albums' styles nicely. It's clearly a pop album first and foremost, but there's plenty of rock bite that was missing from From the Outside. If From the Outside was pure pop and The Edge of Control was pure rock, Aftertaste feels like a mix of both but with its own flair. Maturity is the word that comes to mind first when listening to Aftertaste, especially in contrast to the previous albums, which I would characterize as playfully immature and unapologetic of that decision. Aftertaste is an album made by adults. The song "Hazy", the album's closer, spells out the thesis of this album. Hey Violet is a successful band that made it in the music industry, but they've grown up now.

AFTERTASTE perfectly captures the feeling of early 2020s discontent. It's defiant, sarcastic, at times hopeless, and at other times rises above the hopelessness. It feels both deeply personal and also kinda universal in a way that the best pop music does. I feel like I can connect with this album today just like I connected with From the Outside all those years ago.

Hey Violet means a lot to me. I have the day I first discovered their music marked in my calendar as my Hey Violet Fanniversary - November 24, 2018, by the way. They're one of the few artists where I would preorder a new album as quickly as possible before even hearing it. Unfortunately for me, though, Hey Violet did not release AFTERTASTE on CD anywhere I could find it, so I had to settle for a digital download. That does bother me a little bit because I have the other two albums on CD, but I can't really blame them. Both CDs and Hey Violet are past their respective heydays. It still makes me a bit sad, though.

If you can relate to feeling the dread of the 2020s lately, you might enjoy this album. If you've ever been a fan of Hey Violet or their previous incarnation as Cherri Bomb, you probably owe it to yourself to hear their final word as a band. I'm not exactly expecting AFTERTASTE to be a massive hit or widespread success, but for the community of fans who love this band, it's something special and I am thankful we have it.

My favorite track from AFTERTASTE is Uncomplicated.

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