Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt
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Reviewed by Mike Farley
If you’re a fan, you know that the debut contained zero clunkers, and you’ll also be pleased to know that Augustana’s sophomore effort, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt, is more of the same. That means beautifully crafted and arranged alt-pop – songs that will remind you of the days when bands cared about giving us an album of songs instead of one or two singles and a bunch of filler – even in the digital age.
The first single that was leaked on Augustana’s MySpace page is “Sweet and Low,” and while extremely melodic and hooky, it’s just one of 10 really good tracks. The opening number, “Hey Now,” takes a little while to develop, but once it does, it has an anthem type feel, a la Train—in fact, lead singer Dan Layus has a very similar vocal tone to Train’s Pat Monaghan. There are a few nice rockers, like “I Still Ain’t Over You” and “Meet Me There Someday,” but this band may be at its best with slow and somber piano-driven songs. In particular, “Twenty Years” and the album’s best track, “Fire,” are examples of this -- sparsely arranged yet subtly powerful.
Most of the tracks on Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt could be singles, and you just can’t say that about 99 percent of today’s releases. Augustana is a band that cares about its craft and about giving its fans an album full of good material. What’s more, there are only 10 tracks – a marketing philosophy that leaves less room for throwaway songs, and leaves the band’s fans eager for a third album. In fact, Epic Records seems to care more than most labels about developing artists and delivering quality product, and that’s music to the ears of people who really care about the music that they listen to, and the music that they buy.