CD Review of It’s Only Time by Drake Bell

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It’s Only Time
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Universal Motown
Released: 2006
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Sometimes, a bubblegum pop artist comes along who’s clearly aimed at a demographic to which you in no way belong and that shouldn’t even remotely appeal to you…and, yet, you find their music irresistible. In 2005, it was the Click Five, but in 2006, the only artist that came close was Ashley Parker Angel – until, that is, the last month of the year.

Actually, it’s probably best that Drake Bell’s sophomore album, It’s Only Time, didn’t emerge in time to receive proper consideration in this writer’s 2006 best-of list. When it comes to this kind of music, there’s a tendency to listen to it, become instantly smitten by it, and inevitably overrate it, only to have your initial impressions come back and bite you in the ass; as such, it’s best to give an album like this several spins over the course of a couple of weeks, just to make sure that you’re not simply being suckered in by the studio gloss and sugary sweetness of the huge hooks.

Now, mind you, given Bell’s usual audience and the sort of reviews he’s used to seeing, I could probably just get away with writing the following:

heyy drake!
your pretty AMAZING
I love YOU an you're songs!!!
And you're band!!!!
All you're songs were very beautifull,nice and cool!!!!
I love you and you're musik!
i loveee you music like ALOTT
i basically listen to ur cd everyday
drake u r number one


But, no, that doesn’t give the album the respect it deserves, although I think you’ll agree that it does offer Drake some very serious props. (And, for the record, every one of those lines was lifted from actual comments on Bell’s MySpace page.) Drake Bell might be a twenty-year-old heartthrob whose following consists almost entirely of girls who’ve watched every episode of his Nickelodeon series, “Drake and Josh,” because he’s super-hot, but the guy’s clearly got good taste in music.

Instead of going the white-rapper route or trying his hand at soulful dance-pop, Bell’s embracing his inner Beatle – even if the folks writing his press releases at Universal apparently don’t know much about the Fab Four. They’re trying to suggest that the album’s first single, “I Know,” could’ve come off Rubber Soul. Well, no, but there are certainly plenty of Beatle-esque moments here; “Up Periscope” tips its captain’s hat to Revolver’s “Yellow Submarine,” and “End It Good” is an admitted homage to Abbey Road (though, frankly, it sounds more like one of Paul’s ditties from The White Album). The folks in the publicity department are, thankfully, more accurate in their suggestion that “Do What You Want” sounds a bit like Elton John. “Fool the World” and “Makes Me Happy,” however, are straight-up Jellyfish, and “Fallen for You” and “Rusted Silhouette” aren’t far from Ben Folds territory. The only two songs that result in little more than a shrug are the acoustic version of “Found a Way” (probably only included because it’s the theme song for “Drake and Josh”), which at times sounds eerily like Extreme, and “Telegraph,” which finds Bell getting a bit too overdramatic with his vocals.

Sure, much – okay, most – of It’s Only Time can be written off as derivative, and God knows there are bands out there who can do the glossy power pop thing a hell of a lot better (and sell a hell of a lot less albums in the process), but if your daughter is swooning over Bell, at least you can take comfort in knowing that you’ll have no problem putting up with his music.

~Will Harris