“Simple Times” a sophomore slump

Photo Courtesy Columbia Records

Ashley Goetz

Photo Courtesy Columbia Records

Joshua Radin ALBUM: Simple Times LABEL: Columbia As musical artists move further and further into the realm of sound digitization, voice distortion and tone retouching, there are singer-songwriters who have chosen to reject this route for much simpler sounds. Joshua Radin’s new album, âÄúSimple Times,âÄù is a return to the basics of music creation, with most of his tracks sporting an acoustic guitar or two and meager piano accompaniment. âÄúSimple TimesâÄù is simple in almost every way, a trait that works for and against the accessibility of the music. As the album wears on, you forget which track you are listening to, because, though the beats and words differ, every song sounds like the last. The whispery choruses and light guitar plucking are often enchanting, but Radin didn’t leave the poetic lyrics of yester-album at home. The clichés dealt in Radin’s emotive hummings are inevitable, but a few of these songs ring triter than Vitamin C’s âÄúGraduation.âÄù âÄúBrand New DayâÄù displays Radin reaching High-School-Musical levels of cheesiness in its unimpressive chorus, âÄúThe sun is shining/ it’s a brand new day/ for the first time in such a long, long time/ I know I’ll be OK.âÄù The album has a few redeeming tracks where Radin’s achingly emotional babblings prove effective. âÄúVegetable CarâÄù has that bouncy romantic attitude that induces smiles from the guitar-picking start. Think Jack Johnson’s âÄúBetter TogetherâÄù minus the frat-boy following. Lyrics like âÄúShe drives a vegetable car/ diesel Mercedes green two-door âĦ Lisa Loeb glasses/ I’d sure like to ask you to stayâÄù add even more intrigue to the track. âÄúSky,âÄù a collaboration with Ingrid Michaelson, melodically explores romantic nightmares. âÄúNo Envy, No FearâÄù is reminiscent of what Radin is capable of lyrically. Unfortunately, it simply stresses how short this album falls compared to his debut album, âÄúWe Were Here.âÄù If we remove the album’s pretensions and clichés (a task that proves difficult), we’re left with something that’s difficult to find in chart-topping hits by Rihanna or T-Pain : Sobering sincerity. But if whispery acoustic emo isn’t your thing, Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos have an album coming out next week.