h

We The Kings: Sunshine State Of Mind

Florida's We The Kings have always dwelt in a somewhat lonely corner of the music world. Singer Travis Clark is pretty enough to be a heart-throb for the teen crowd, and their pop melodies are plenty radio friendly, but there's also an alternative rock or pop-punk edge to their sound, and maybe even something a little bit 1970s cowboy-shirt pop for the older crowd to latch onto.

Sunshine State of Mind pushes this last trait a little further with obvious flashes of 1970’s Californian soft rock. Think Bread, America and The Eagles, filtered through a further three and a half decades of guitar pop history. Think acoustic guitars, country-ish tinges, heartfelt singer-songwriter moments and straightforward song structures. But some of the lyrics are, well, embarrassingly sappy. Say You Like Me in particular is the kind of thing you'll want to turn down so your friends don't make fun of you.

 

Although the band hit it biggish with the pop-punk Check Yes Juliet (recently used as the theme song for a reality show), there's really none of that particular energy here. Instead this is laid-back, sun-dappled, glass-of-iced-lemonade music. The thing is, I'm not sure it really works. It feels like Clark and co are trying a little too hard to not just reinvent Check Yes Juliet and have instead built upon the more successful moments of 2009's Smile, Kid. But in doing so they've rounded off the edges a little bit too smoothly and made an album that mums will like. That's usually rock and roll suicide, and although they're still a solid live band, Sunshine State Of Mind probably sets the band's credibility back a little bit in its pursuit of radio-friendliness. Adelaide's Leader Cheetah do this kind of breezy Californian sound much less painfully and more organically. Also, the cover looks like a lemon soda can photographed with Instragram.

 

BY PETER HODGSON

 

Best Track: Kiss Me Last

If You Dig This, You'll Dig This: Lotus Skies, LEADER CHEETAH

 

In A Word: Sappy