Butch Walker‘s latest effort isnt an out-and-out bad listen. Unfortunately, its a bit of a slog to get through. I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart could have been titled I Liked It Better When I Heard it on Pneumonia. There are so many instances here of late Whiskeytown-influences that dont rise to the occasion, leaving Walker out in the dust of his contemporaries.
Trash Day is a good enough start to the album. A pleasant pop-rocker with sing-along choruses and big guitars. It isnt the best song on the album, but it comes close. The opener is an example of Walker at his best: writing crunchy pop rock without trying too hard. When he tries too hard, it turns to schmaltz, like Pretty Melody. Its strings and piano clash badly with the percussion as Walker goes for Springsteen but comes up Gavin DeGraw.
The acoustic Dont You Think Someone Should Take You Home is sweet alt-country, and a definite step-up from the previous track. Like most songs on the album though, it doesnt hang around your head. You wont find yourself humming the melody later in the day, whether youre walking the dog or driving home from work. If anything, youll be humming Jacksonville Skyline (did I mention how these songs sound like Whiskeytown?).
There are a couple instances here where Walker crafts a good tune without going off the deep end. Temporary Title and House of Cards both have a Madness-feel to them. The strings sound a little inspired as opposed to being simply generated by computers. The fact that there arent a lot of bands out there sounding like Madness doesnt hurt Walker in these cases. Its when he tries to pull a T-Rex in the chorus for They Dont Know What We Know that the listener resorts back to eye-rolling.
Things come to an end with Be Good Until Then. Again, its an okay acoustic track that has been done better by Adams, Tweedy, Farrar, Louris, etc. The main problem with Walker is that there is no edge to the music. Its hard to pinpoint this down to the vocals or the production, but until Walker figures it out, well be more than happy to put on Faithless Street in the meantime.