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The Way It Was

Parachute

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Album Review

You don’t get much more commercial than Parachute, whose second album distills every nook and cranny of Top 40 radio into a nine-song track list. There’s blue-eyed soul, adult contemporary, heartland rock & roll, and a handful of pop ballads. There are guitars and gospel choirs, harmonies and Hammond organ, saxophones and strings. Everything sounds vaguely familiar, but that’s because it’s supposed to; Parachute don’t want to rewrite the rulebook as much as master the rules themselves. They come close with The Way It Was, turning “Something to Believe In” into a latter-day Kings of Leon anthem and pitching songs like “Forever and Always,” about a girl whose fiancé winds up in the hospital, directly at their female audience. Written during tours with the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Plain White T’s, The Way It Was is an album that recognizes the power of a good pop hook, and there are loads of them here, from the crooning melodies of Will Anderson to the chiming guitar lines of Nate McFarland, who sounds as though he’s spent significant time with the U2 songbook. Still in their early to mid-twenties, these guys are learning how to make a big, bombastic sound that doesn’t collapse due its own ambition — and while they don’t always get it right (worst lyric of the album: “Smelled the truth in her hair/Felt the world at my feet”), the hits outweigh the misses. Tired of the mainstream? Avoid this album. Looking for a stylish reboot of the Goo Goo Dolls sound? You’re in the right place.

The Way It Was, Parachute
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