Singer Anthony Green has spent years fronting post-hardcore bands Saosin and Circa Survive. Over the past few years, he’s focused increasingly on a burgeoning solo career, most recently with Beautiful Things. Across 13 tracks, Green expands beyond his roots, referencing country, pop, and even punk for an effort that demonstrates his ginormous musical breadth. Problem is, the album’s a little bit of everything and not enough of any one thing.
When the album’s good, Green’s aesthetic is refreshing in its diversity. Representing the album’s main sensibility, “Blood Song” is a rag-tag homage to country, complete with bumpkin-y guitar and vocals like a hillbilly Rivers Cuomo. The lyrical content (“She was only 20, but she f**ked like 33″) is standard Green-ian poetry. Moving down the musical spectrum, “When I’m On Pills” utilizes reggae and psych-rock to explore love and dependency, creating a woozy feeling that makes for a fascinating change of pace. “Do It Right” exists as a midpoint between the country odes and experimentation; it’s a lesson in vocal depth and harmonies, like a post-punk campfire hoe-down. These tracks excel thanks to their consistency with Green’s sonic resume and as samples of his refreshing inventiveness.
Still, the record’s flaws can feel overwhelmingly mediocre. “If I Don’t Sing”, theoretically, is a jovial celebration of music’s ability to lend purpose. The end result, especially the half-hearted riff Green undoubtedly borrowed from Circa Survive, is a slice of stinky rock cheese. The simple ukulele of “Moon Song” feels forced and hokey, with the sanctity of a college drum circle. The lyrics too suffer greatly (“I’m born in a body I can’t stand”), with Green coming off less alt-rebel and more emo wuss. Of all the crimes, album closer “Lullaby” may be the worst: Its cutsey romanticism represents Green’s tendency toward the overwrought.
Props are in order for Green stepping out of his comfort zone. However, subsequent LPs are going to need to be more refined before they’re ready to be deemed truly beautiful.
Essential Tracks: “Blood Song”, “When I’m On Pills”, “If I Don’t Sing”