Proving that instrumentation can still chart, Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino (aka A Great Big World) impresses with their long awaited debut album.
The New York University duo A Great Big World have been kicking around the internet for a couple of years now – even being featured on iTunes a couple of years ago before even coming up for a name for themselves. But since then, they have exploded in a fun. like manner. Since Glee decided to feature one of their songs, A Great Big World has been featured almost everywhere – even performing at the Victoria’s Secret show. And they’ve been doing this all on the back of their beautiful piano ballad, “Say Something” featuring backing vocals from Christina Aguilera. But now, their debut album Is There Anybody Out There? is out, and gladly expands off of their breakout single to make a rather enjoyable pop experience.
The album opens up with “Rockstar,” a bubbly little song about wanting to be a rockstar. It doesn’t really open up the album well, but does give you a good sense of what the duo is going for – radio friendly pop music. And that’s what they do best; songs like “This is the New Year” and “I Really Want It” don’t have the songwriting prowess of some other artists in this style of music (Ben Folds comes to mind for me), but their simplicity both in their lyrics and musical ways makes them a perfect VH1 style band. It’s not bad, per say, it’s just familiar.
The shining gem on A Great Big World’s debut album, however, are their ballads. “Say Something” is undoubtedly one of the best songs on the album – both with Aguilera and without her. Again, it’s not lyrically strong, but the emotion that comes out of it quickly forgives it for any other faults. “I Don’t Want To Love Somebody Else” features only Chad singing on the track, but like Ian’s on “Say Something,” his emotion is what makes it gorgeous. “You’ll Be Okay” is another one that stands out here – it’s doo-wop beat gives it a “last dance at your party” kind of feel to it, and Ian and Chad’s vocals are top notch here (not that they haven’t been in other places on the album – it’s the most consistent part of the LP).
Although I enjoyed Is There Anybody Out There? quite a bit, I can’t help but to wonder how long this duo can last. It was originally Ian Axel featuring Chad Vaccarino, after all. But until that day comes, I can still sit back and listen to some good pop music. Is There Anybody Out There? isn’t perfect, but what it does is solidify a piano’s place among the EDM filled charts.
Final Grade: B+
Go Download: “Say Something”