Help Wanted Nights
Author: Roger Chao
08/10/2007 | Buffalo Generation | www.generationbuffalo.edu | Album Review
I'll admit, I was nervous about The Good Life's new album Help Wanted Nights. Their last release, conveniently titled Album of the Year, received rave reviews from fans and critics alike. So, naturally, I wondered and worried, about whether or not the new kid on the block would meet my expectations. Upon my first listening, Help Wanted Nights proved to be a great follow-up to a nearly perfect predecessor, barring a few faults here and there.
Help Wanted Nights is composed of ten tracks, all dealing with the theme of heartache. Musically, it follows the basic format of Album of the Year, which was a slight departure from previous albums by The Good Life. Rather than writing songs with a digital/electronic sound to them, Album of the Year and Help Wanted Nights, are much softer, with more acoustic guitars, relying mainly on singer/guitarist Tim Kasher's voice to drive each song. That is not to say there is a lack of other instruments. Electric guitars are employed aplenty on this album and the song "Some Tragedy" is driven heavily by a walking bass line and steady drumbeat. Lyrically, Tim Kasher never fails to deliver. His words are sincere and methodical. It is clear from his songs that Kasher has had his fair share of heartbreak. His lyrics accurately describe situations of adultery, doubt, and lying lovers.
Many of Kasher's lyrics are simple, but have significant meanings, like in the song, "You Don't Feel Like Home Anymore": "And she whispers in his ear / 'You can't run away forever' / But sometimes / That feels like coming home to me." Kasher's most impressive ability lies in his delivery. His voice ultimately dictates how his listeners perceive the songs; his sad, soothing, and sometimes slightly out-of-key singing strikes a note with listeners and pulls us in, making us want to hear more of his tragic tales.
If there's anything lacking from Help Wanted Nights, it's continuity. There is a lack of flow from one song to another. Though there are one or two songs that stream well into the next track, the album altogether feels more like a collection of separate songs, rather than a story. This can be disheartening, especially considering that all the songs follow the same basic theme of dead-end relationships. Some are also a bit drawn out and open-ended. "So Let Go" is a slow, downtrodden song that has one basic melody and rhythm. Rather than finishing with a noticeable ending, it eventually just fades away, leaving the listener wondering if it has truly ended.
Help Wanted Nights is great in that it is filled with mellow, relaxing melodies and easily relatable lyrics. The Good Life succeeded in creating an album with depth and character. It may not be the ideal CD to put on at a party, but it's perfect for those days when you want to do nothing but lie in bed.