15 years ago it wasn't uncommon for American rock acts to chart in the upper echelons of the UK hit parade - Limp Bizkit were putting the nu in metal and Blink 182 were bringing punk to pop. Boston outfit American Hi-Fi released their debut in 2001, and whilst they somewhat got lost amongst the pack (they had a sole top 40 UK track); this release commemorates that first album.
Whereas anniversary re-issues used to be for seminal records, these days they come around more often than event days that boost the profits of Hallmark.
To their credit, American Hi-Fi have at least done something different - rather than re-package the original release with a few extras, they've re-recorded it acoustically, so at least fans aren't just getting the same thing again. The switch from an electric set up to something more organic results in 'Surround' losing some of its original bite, substituted instead for a mid-tempo sing-a-long. 'Flavour Of The Weak' remains an anthem, while 'I'm A Fool' is something of a rediscovered treasure. By far, the track that benefits most from a facelift is 'Another Perfect Day', evolving seamlessly from emo-rock power ballad to warming campfire number. This is largely down to involving Kay Hanley on shared vocals, which works a treat for a song which has been progressed from the original teen audience it targeted. Indeed, this may have been the idea all along for an album which, let's face it, hardly created a legacy. By re-recording it in a more mature style, it may recapture fans of the original that have grown up, as it is executed as well as it could be.
Having been on something of a semi-hiatus, Boston outfit American Hi-Fi now release their fifth album and first since 2010. Having broken through in the early part of last decade, they tasted commercial success when the likes of Staind, Sum 41 and Nickelback were not unfamiliar names in the charts. The quartet compliments this return with a trio of headline shows in December in their homeland.
The initial success of American Hi-Fi was based on a formula of infusing pop sensibilities into their metal-influenced rock, with the likes of 'Flavor Of The Weak' and 'The Breakup Song' featuring infectious and anthemic choruses. This album travels the same road, but crucially lacks the ingredient of tracks to get the masses singing along. The likes of 'Coma' have some decent if familiar riffs and contain the spirit of a band still with passion, but the hooks are comparatively lacking when compared to the band at their peak. 'Wake Up' gets closer to capturing the magic of old and 'Amnesia' is also a decent effort, but in the overall standings of a record you would want them as filler at best instead of being the highlights. Unfortunately the amount of by-numbers monotony means that even hardcore fans looking forward to this return may be disappointed, though the closing 'No Ordinary Life' is a dynamic monster worth skipping through to.
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