A band's second album is typically the "difficult" one. Not in terms of the ease or lack-there-of in writing and recording it, though a group may struggle to find new territory cover, rather it's conspicuously sombre, jaded, and "mature." Fame isn't all it's cracked up to be, being in a band isn't all groupies and limelight, touring is tiresome and puts a significant strain on relationships, within the band and from without.
When we last spoke with Ian Axel and Chad King of A Great Big World this summer, they said that their second album--When the Morning Comes, which is out today on Epic Records--would stay true to their sound, but be more "grown up."
"I feel like we're trying to marry the theatrical sense of what we do and the emotional sense. Trying to hit a little bit more in the pop arena because we want to reach the most amount of people. I feel the album is a little bit more beat driven as well. I think that our fans aren't going to be disappointed at all, because it sounds like us and it has the same heart that it did in the first album."
When you get "grown up," "theatrical," and "emotional" all lined up in a single quote, as a critic you instantly get the suspicion that the talent is working on a maudlin, sad-sack record. Thankfully, A Great Big World did not go that route with When the Morning Comes. In fact they've gone complete opposite way: their second album is an optimistic, utterly uplifting affair.
From the record's rousing opener, "All I Want Is Love," through break-out single "Hold Each Other"--which appears in two iterations on the album, early and featuring Futuristic and closing out the LP--all the way through to the the slightly less bullish "Won't Stop Running," and finally back to "Hold Each Other," the album's tone (hopeful) and central topic (love) are made abundantly clear.
While one might suspect that all the songs might sound the same, sharing such a prominent thematic through-line, A Great Big World examine the most cherished human emotion through a variety of lenses. They explore the way that love transforms your life in "Kaleidoscope," wax melodic about finding strength and resilience through it in the album's titular track, and try to hold onto perfect little moments against the ever rushing passage of time in "Where Does the Time Go." Thankfully, the band unpacks their theme in many different ways and explores its multiple facets.
Furthermore, the album is incredibly sonically diverse, taking the band--and the listener--in multiple directions. As promised the record is much more beat driven then their debut, Is There Anybody Out There? From hummable, to danceable, to pensive, When the Morning Comes, is a well curated musical assortment and each song shines, whether its working in tandem with its brothers or set a part in a playlist with music from other artists.
When the Morning Comes is an utter delight. For a quick fix, its optimistic take on love can take you through the emotional gauntlet that is cuffing season, but the record has more longevity that and has more than a few evergreen indie pop standouts.
When the Morning Comes is out today on Epic Records.