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“I’ll always be unhappy if I don’t sing” croons Anthony Green in the opening track on Beautiful Things. And as this is his second solo album following up three relatively successful LP’s as lead vocalist of Circa Survive, luckily Anthony Green gets what he wants. But where 2008′s Avalon showed a surprising folky and upbeat side of this well-known alternative singer, Beautiful Things is one of the first albums Green has put out that handles itself a little sloppily. There are a few gems scattered throughout, much like you’d find in a collection of b-sides or experimental tracks. The end result is an album which, sure, separates from Green’s general body of work in a curious fashion, but begs the question of why it was merited in the first place.
Perhaps it’s the production style that causes me as a reviewer a bit of hesitation, manufactured in such a way to emphasize the raw power of Green’s normally screeching vocals as they trace over light percussion and admittedly inspired guitar-work. To put it gently, even as a fan I find it hard to see the allure in his scraggly high-pitched performances. He shows his own expert vocal work on “When I’m On Pills,” one of the better tracks but even then a spiritual successor to 2008′s drug-motivated track “Stone Hearted Man.” The sad part here is how well his style goes with the much harder Saosin or the atmospheric Circa Survive. At its best, Beautiful Things seems directly tuned towards Green’s already well-established fan base, so unless you belong with that posse there’s not much need to jump on this wagon.
Now, that’s a particularly difficult declaration from one of his most avid supporters throughout the years, especially when some tracks here really do stand out. The first three tracks are a fairly accurate compilation of what you’ll see in the rest of Beautiful Things, moving through “If I Don’t Sing” with its standard format and catchy chorus to the semi-interlude “Do it Right” and one of the album’s strongest tracks “Moon Song.” The latter track mentioned is a delicately put together blend of hand drums and acoustic guitar, probably a better reflection of this album’s sound than the rest. From then on the stand-out tracks are “Get Yours While You Can,” “Can’t Have it All At Once,” and “Love You No Matter What,” embodying a bit of wordiness and maybe even some laziness lyrically.
Green has always been known for his clever and abstract lyrics, which is another reason why Beautiful Things can come off as derivative instead of expansive. This follows well with Green’s desire to continue singing as before stated, as he certainly has the musical talent. It’s questionable though what Beautiful Things has to bring to the table. It sounds good all the way through, with some questionable production in parts, but by the end it’s hard to leave either satisfied or wanting more. Instead it can best be described as “enough.” Enjoy it as a fan service, or just let it slide by unnoticed.