‘What We Live For’ album review
By Cheryl Minns, Columnist
The American Authors have returned with their second full-length studio album, What We Live For. Filled with upbeat pop songs that are sure to be summer hits, and lots of folk pop tracks reminiscent of their first album, What We Live For takes listeners on a musical journey of highs and lows with an abundant dose of sheer optimism.
The album opens with the title track, “What We Live For,” which sounds like a summer road trip anthem full of piano and drums. Lyrics such as “I drive a beat-up car, a Caravan, the colour blue” and “Got ’90s retro on the radio, our favourite tune” nicely set the song’s scene. The next track, “Born to Run,” continues the adventure theme with a pop rock song about the group touring the world. The song embraces the idea that life is short and you have to live every minute to the fullest.
With “Pride,” the group returns to their folk pop sound with a hearty helping of banjo and tambourine. They also attempt a different style by doing the verses in spoken word. The song chronicles their experiences in their hometown of Brooklyn and how things have changed since the band became popular. The song has two music videos, including one featuring Sandra Mae Frank (from Deaf West Theater’s Spring Awakening) performing the song in sign language during a morning commute through New York.
“Mess with Your Heart” is a track similar to One Direction’s later music. This one works for the group because it embraces their acoustic guitar and banjo sound alongside the pop. The song tells the story of a young man trying to win over a young woman who just moved to Brooklyn and is having a hard time adjusting to the city. He promises to be her “neon light in the dark.”
Contrasting the previous track’s theme of a budding relationship is “No Love,” a pop song about a relationship that seems fine but is actually falling apart because the people are no longer in love with each other. Like “Replaced,” this piano-centric song contains synthesized vocals, which seem unnecessary but give the track a unique sound.
“Superman,” a slower pop track, is about becoming one’s own hero to save one’s self. Building from a piano solo to include drums, electric guitars, and violins, the song leads listeners through a short pop orchestra as Barnett describes feeling like Superman.
The final track, “Mind Body Soul,” is similar to “Superman” in the way it builds from a slower track into a powerful, heartfelt ballad. The song reflects on how life has changed for the group since their musical career took off.