Catchy but Unexciting
Pop ETC’s front man Jonathan Chu’s quote on this album, “A souvenir to hold on to and remember those days” is apt for all those who grew up listening to a lot of electro-pop and dance music in their late teen years. Each song has a catchy synthetic bass line with a verse-chorus structure, without much of interlude music. There is a heavy use of similar sounding synth patches with an extensive use of reverb and delay resulting in similar sounding songs. However, a second listen to Souvenir would bring out the hidden musical ornamentations and happy sounding hook lines.
The opening song, “Please Don’t Forget Me” sounds like a boy-band track, with multiple voices singing the same line. But it’s surprising to note that most of the songs have been recorded in a similar way with almost every chorus having overlapping vocals, making them feel interconnected in a monotonous fashion. The second track named “Vice” sounds like some 80s dance pop song with three/four note melodies in the background. “Vice” is surely going to be noticed by many listeners interested in this genre of music and is one of the best tracks in this album. The guitar intro in the beginning of the third track “I Wanted To Change The World But The World Changed Me” might sound familiar to the song “You” by the Ed Sheeran collaboration album, but changes totally in the verse and has a beautiful falsetto induced chorus. This is a must-listen track for anyone interested in modern pop music. The already-released single “Bad Break” couldn’t impress a lot of listeners because of its stereotype 80s influenced pop number and an average music video. But don’t judge this album by its single as it has some very cool hook lines in tracks like “Your Heart is a Weapon.” The album ends with a nice song “I’m only Dreaming,” a medium tempo pop song which might qualify for a new age romantic music video.
Overall, Souvenir has fallen in the hands of good engineers and producers and is recorded and mixed very professionally. Music geeks who like to analyze every tune might be disappointed as most of the songs are based on major diatonic chord progressions and there aren’t many surprises. But haven’t most popular songs in history been written with the simplest of chord progressions. Souvenir isn’t an album that most people would listen from beginning till end, multiple numbers of times but it surely has some excellent tracks, promising enough to find a spot in the everyday playlist of music enthusiasts.