As I have addressed in previous posts, I love power pop. Power pop, for those that aren't in the Hip Genre Names club, is a style of music that resembles traditional pop music, but with more electric guitars and punk rock energy (it feels more "powerful," hence the name). Hey Monday, a quintet from West Palm Beach, FL, scratches my power pop itch with great melodies, booming energy, and excellent vocal work from one of the better female lead singers in the industry.
Hold On Tight is a record that in many ways feels very old-fashioned: it's lyrics don't wink at the audience, the production doesn't attempt any grandiose tricks like adding a symphony or a spoken word bridge, and the songs are all about 3:30—4:00 minutes long. In other words, this is a pop record the way they used to make 'em.
The music is sugar-coated enough to give someone a diabetic coma. The vocals soar, the guitars shine, and the hooks are big enough to snag Jaws, bigger boat be damned (check out "Obvious" and "Run, Don't Walk" to start off, but check your blood sugar first). Singer Cassadee Pope Brings appropriate energy and spunk to her performances, but lends a fair bit of sweetness and (dare I say it) prettiness to each song, making each listen a far cry from the many nasally-voiced bands that populate the genre.
In many ways, this album is the anti-Brand New Eyes. On Paramore's newest entry, the band is clearly on a cathartic streak, attacking the track with a tightly-wound blend of pop and therapeutic aggression. With Hold On Tight, Hey Monday seems bent on making a record for people to listen to and feel good doing so. Though several songs head into more emotional territory ("Homecoming"'s tale of someone who comes home to find their significant other with someone else, "Josey"'s story of a girl who parties too much), everything is played with such a bright sheen that even the more lyrically heavy songs sound downright jovial. Which one the "better" album is comes down to preference.
If you're not a fan of poppy music, or feel awkward listening to music that will be appealing to teenagers, I'd give this one a wide berth. However, for listeners that don't mind a bit of bubblegum in their music, or for those who prefer to listen to music with their tongue firmly in their cheek, Hold On Tight is a solid piece of guilty pleasure that is worth blaring in the car… with the windows rolled securely up, of course.