Sweeping generalization: the rise of MDMA and ecstasy use among younger kids is making for worse and worse music. There are any number of albums from this year to pick from to prove this point, and one is Hellogoodbye’s newest release Everything is Debatable, which takes the best of their poppy Hot Topic-infused dance beats and sullies it with a misguided ’80s keyboard throwback and the complete wrong kind of atmospheric sounds. Completely abandoning their indie pop style for one far too influenced by electronic dance music but without the heaviness of the beats that fans of EDM would be looking for, Everything is Debatable doesn’t seem likely to attract many fans at all. More likely, it will drive away plenty of their older fans.
Proving that songs with quirky titles or punctuation are rarely ever worth listening to, Everything is Debatable opens with “…And Everything Becomes a Blur” which sounds way too much like a cheesy Christmas remake to make anyone want to keep listening to the album, unless that’s exactly what they’re looking for. Everything is Debatable hits on the occasional catchy song, as is the case with “How Wrong Can I Be,” which sounds more like what listeners could have hoped their sound would change to over the years, but it still is rife with holiday-y keyboards that almost overshadow the catchy aspects of the track. The album closes with “A Near Death Experience,” the band’s attempt at a heart-wrenching, atmospheric and orchestral end to the record that they clearly hoped to have played over the credits of the next indie black comedy to be released, that really just encompasses how much this pseudo-holiday record disguised as a pop punk album missed the mark.
2013 has been a great year for bands to mature their sound and produce records that imply only good things for their future, but there always has to be an exception to the rule and Hellogoodbye’s Everything is Debatable seems to be that exception. During their time on Drive-Thru records, they released songs that even listeners who can barely stand their brand of indie, electro-pop punk could get up and dance to, but as has happened with so many of our favorite punk and hardcore bands that have signed to labels that focus on screamo and metalcore, their sound has devolved into something even diehard pop punk fans would have to turn off immediately.