Hailing from the land down under, Kai Brown brings his self produced and recorded album Better Now to American ears on July 26th. A mix of pop and acoustic soul, Brown’s voice is sexy and smooth, nailing notes effortlessly while mixing seamlessly with rock guitar and acoustic ballads.
The release starts out with the lush chording and jangly minors of his first single “The Pain,” which brings to mind such other acts as later Replacements, Gin Blossoms, and even Sugar, although it must be noted that the pure poppyness of the whole album detracts from songs that could other wise be standout expressions. “Up All Night” continues in the same vein, sounding like Barenaked Ladies backed by a KBCO playlist, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on your leanings.
Things get a bit more punchy with white-funk guitar lying under soulfully sung lyrics about finding happiness and the meaning of life in a night of passion on title track “Better Now,” but it left me feeling jaded. Fortunately, it starts out the gate with U2-esque bassline and off tempo staccato chording before slowly building into a yet another song of love, life, and the pursuit of happiness, but as hit the halfway mark on Better Now I had had enough of the self-deprecating lyrics of lost love and women and was ready for a change.
Unfortunately, and as things move forward, I was met with more of the same: catchy hooks, guitar intro’s and lyrics of love and women pervading every chance of redemption. “Money & Love” worked, building down tempo verses to a chorus with a perfect pop hook, radio ready to be single number two in my opinion, and “Everyday” was thankfully a little different with no drums, instead focusing on an acoustic ballad mixed with whining electric guitar and a mournful harmonica.
Kai Brown will find success on the likes of aforementioned KBCO and other radio stations that play pop rock aimed at a slightly less “poppy” crowd (think pop rock with a songwriter twist) and I am sure there are many out there (am guess, mostly women) who will absolutely love this album. Overall, I think that it will go either one way or another: listeners will either love it or hate it since many of the songwriting mediums Brown uses becomes redundant, turning every track into yet another lost love pop nugget.