TITLE: S’ONLY NATURAL
LABEL: ALCOPOP! RECORDS
RATING: 6 /10
WORDS: CHRIS PRENATT
It’s been a while since the world has heard anything from Hellogoodbye, the beloved emo pop band that came into our music scene simply out of nowhere. Ever since the band dropped 2013’s ‘Everything Is Debatable’, the group have been awfully quiet. But then the group’s major songwriter Forrest Kline, who’s also their frontman, came out of nowhere to tell us that a new album was coming out in 2018, sounding like nothing Hellogoodbye have ever done before. On their fourth album ‘S’Only Natural’, Kline shows how much the group has changed by letting their freak flag fly high and proud, but sadly only briefly.
Things start off well, and the group get all kinds of funky and groovy on the ever-so-wonderful title track, the dance song ‘Let It Burn’, the 70s-esque ‘Hang Loose’ and ‘You’ve Got An Expensive Heart’, the latter of which sounds mostly like if Daft Punk and Skylar Spence collaborated together to make the funkiest sounds ever imagined by mankind. But the funk and the fun freakiness fades out just before the party could even start. Now, the album ranges in between The Killers-esque vibes sounding ‘Put It Out’, the love making banger ‘Close’, and ‘Mysterious You’, which sprinkles Hellogoodbye’s past few albums into one song. The whole album now just makes these songs feel so out of place since we were treated to the grooviness of the last couple tracks. It feels like Kline became inspired by the easy-listening styles of Burt Bacharach and put his touch into songs like the album’s beyond beautiful closer ‘Honeymoon (Forever)’, the soothing and funky little dance track ‘I’ll Keep On Following You’, and the piano heavy “Anytime, Anyform”.
“Kline turns into this 1970s funk machine on the title track, which proves to be the most fun song off the record, making you want to bust a move on the dance floor…
Some of the strongest tracks off of S’Only Natural would have to be the erotically sounding ‘Close’ and of course, the far-out groove fest of a song, ‘‘S’Only Natural’. On ‘Close’, Kline turns into this seductive man crooning, “Are we building or breaking?/ Destroying or making?/ Is it entropy or ecstasy?/ Is it real? Are you faking?/ I hardly can take when you’re wrapping up your body in me.” The track feels like it’s light years away from their cheesy love songs like ‘Baby, It’s Fact’ or ‘When We First Met’, feeling so odd for a Hellogoodbye song – so wrong, yet so right.
Kline turns into this 1970s funk machine on the title track, which proves to be the most fun song off the record, making you want to bust a move on the dance floor, blending in contemporary R&B, disco, and yes, funk, to create this little gem, singing about how people will try and tell you to behave in society, but that it’s meaningless and all you can do is be your true self – “It’s only natural/ You wanna live downtown/ Let your freak flag fly a little higher/ I like it when you let yourself lose control.” Think of it as a funkier version of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors’.
“the most unique album hellogoodbye has ever created”
Even with the album’s ups and downs, the band are able to make something beautiful out of all this chaos. None of these tracks sound awful, but most do feel out of place since the album was accidentally teased to be a funk album that would make Chaka Khan blush. S’Only Natural shows how strong their songwriting abilities have grown from the band’s ‘Shimmy Shimmy Quarter Turn’ and ‘Oh, It Is Love’ days. Heck, even his whispery vocal styles work either well on these tracks (‘Let It Burn’, ‘Anytime, Anyform’, ‘Mysterious You’) or not (‘I’ll Keep On Following You’, ‘You’ve Got An Expensive Heart’, ‘S’Only Natural’).
Overall, S’Only Natural is the most unique album Hellogoodbye has ever created, sounding more mature than their 2006 debut Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! However, if they just stuck to their guns and went all out with the grooviness of the title track and ‘Let It Burn’, they might just have made the sleeper hit of 2018.