England’s new boy band sensation Rixton arrives in earnest. With the band’s debut album, Let The Road, Rixton’s popularity is slowing climbing in both the UK and the U.S. The band consists of four members—Jake Roche on vocals, Charley Bagnall on the guitar, Danny Wilkin playing the bass and keyboards, and Lewi Morgan providing the drums. The band does not sound like your usual boy band. There is a bit of controversy over originality when comparing the band’s songs compared to established contemporaries Maroon 5 and One Direction. Looking at Rixton’s first album, there are some positive aspects of the sound, but the negatives are just too hard to overlook.
The album starts off with the title track “Let the Road.” The song sounds original—the majority the song doesn’t even involve any instrumentation and instead turns to harmonizing vocals to really demonstrate the band’s collective ability. The last song on the album, “Whole,” has a similar quality to “Let the Road” in that parts of the song are also sung in a show-tune way, with one boy harmonizing over and after the others. Both of these songs showcase the band’s talent more than most of its pop power ballads. The vulnerability of these bare track allows the natural talent of the band to shine through without an overbearing presence of autotune. The band is better when you can hear the raw voices. As the album continues, however, the music grows increasingly familiar to today’s pop radio landscape.
The comparisons to Maroon 5 are already evident in the second song on the album, “Wait On Me.” The song is an easy piece of evidence for the direct comparison critics have made between Rixton and the older band. The song is pleasant enough for a typical pop tune, but there isn’t anything quite special to it. Listening to Rixton’s music, it’s easy to hear the similarities. Later in the album, “Me and My Broken Heart” and “We All Want the Same Thing” seem like simplified versions of two recent Maroon 5 favorites “Sugar” and “Animals.” Although Rixton has their particular catchy rhythm down, the fact that they sound so similar to Maroon 5 seems to ruin the magic of the band.
There are also songs that really just don’t fit on the album. These include “Appreciated,” “I Like Girls,” “Speakerphone,” and “Hotel Ceiling.” The band actually shows an interesting range, from sounding like Bruno Mars to One Direction. There is, however, enough auto-tune to prevent listeners from discovering anything beyond the superficial shells of these songs, masking the full range of Rixton’s abilities.
Although people might be able to find most of the album enjoyable to dance to at parties, if one is searching for real content, this might not be the place to look—specially after hearing “I Like Girls” which does little more than objectify women. Most tracks don’t have significance. The rest of the songs are mainly sappy heartbreak songs that make the artists seem a bit too happy to have just broken up.
Rixton tries hard to differentiate itself from the legion of aspiring and established boy bands, and instead hits another familiar note—that being Adam Levine’s notable falsettos. Rixton steers its course away from generic pop punk and ends up in another common form of pop. Had Rixton tried to make its songs sound more like “Whole” and “Let The Road,” the group could have offered something truly unique, presenting an a cappella, show-tune aesthetic fresh to the music industry. But this boy band needs to mature some before that happens. Maybe with time, the Rixton boys will realize that they have no need to sound like another band.
Featured Image Courtesy of Interscope Records