REVIEW: Brett Dennen – Loverboy

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Artist: Brett Dennen
Album: Loverboy
Genre: Folk/Pop
Label: Dualtone

Maybe this is a bad thing to say, but I could tell almost instantaneously this wouldn’t be for me. Whatever floats one’s boat, but this sort of dull, monotone dreariness always floats right by me without leaving any lasting impact. Except the wonder as to what else I could have done with those precious 40 minutes of my life.

“Surprise, Surprise” is the opening track, and fact that Dennen’s vocals sound rather bizarrely like Alanis Morissette didn’t endear from the off. The song itself is fairly standard and a tad lackluster. It’s quite tedious and shapeless, merely going through the motions, with nothing that’ll really set you alight. This is followed by “Dancing at a Funeral” – and being at a funeral would be more fun. There’s a saxophone, some clapping motions, and the continuing horrible vocals. They’re not up there with Kings of Leon for grating and frightful, but give him some time and you never know.

“Comeback Kid” is meant to be cheery and sunny, I suppose – maybe intended to sound like a less warbling Paolo Nutini. Instead, it’s wistful and boring. There is some clapping at the end, mind, so someone likes it, but I shadn’t be joining in that party. Frozen in Slow Motion comes across as elevator music with words attached. The string section sounds forced, and there’s no dynamism or gravitas coming from elsewhere to offset it.

I didn’t identify much with “Sydney (I’ll Come Running),” but I definitely heard the word bloomers in it somewhere. Is that not enough? Well just in case, “Make You Fall In Love With Me” has exactly the opposite effect it intends. I’m running far far away and may never return. There’s a persistent jazz undertone, presumably meant to make things sound classy and endearing, but it only adds to the general annoyance. It ticks by at a predictable pace, meandering through some uneven rhythms in the middle before coming full circle for one last hideous chorus.

“Only Rain” is officially missing from a romantic comedy. The montage where the heroine stares pensively out the window, wondering which one of her equally uninteresting suitors to choose from, while wrapped up in a fashionably grey woolly cardigan and hugging a mug of coffee. Yet, this makes it stand out a little. It’s a slow number, set to an acoustic guitar and light keys, and somehow manages to be warmer and more accessible than the rest of the album put together. The vocals still mangle it a bit, but at least it’s a break from the tedium.

“Can’t Stop Thinking About You” brings in the reggae. You didn’t see that coming did you? It’s a change from the foregoing and the added instrumentation is colourful and interesting, but the rhythm is repetitious and it struggles to make an impact. “Song for Leaving” meanwhile features lyrics such as “Oh, get on your train.” I sighed.

Had enough? So have I. I wish I could discern something more encouraging from this murky pile of deadness but I really can’t. I suppose if you really restrain yourself, it’s not abysmal, but there are far too many of these oh-so-sensitive and faux-quirky singer types about, and Brett Dennen isn’t offering anything new to an already saturated pile. “Queen of the Westside” adds insult to injury by being nearly 6 and a half minutes long, but if you’re still awake by “Little Cosmic Girl” its thrills of otherworldly synth and steady drum beat are almost endearing.

Otherwise, I shall continue to associate the term “loverboy” with Dirty Dancing. “Sylvia! How do you call your loverboy?”

I don’t call him Brett Dennen, that’s for sure.

Score: 2/10
Review written by: Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Scottpinkelman

    You find this album unlistenable, but you cream yourself over Sum 41…laughable.

    I don’t get it…Does your father own this website?

  • loverboy

    terrible review. your comments were pointless and actually made little if any sense at all. i’m an avid follower but this is actually making me reconsider your knowledge of music..

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry you’re unhappy with this review. If you haven’t noticed, we have a full staff of critics, all with varying tastes and writing styles. You shouldn’t let one review change your mind about our website. We allow comments so people can express there own feelings about our critics and the albums themselves. I appreciate you taking the time to do so and hope to hear from you again on future reviews.

    -James Shotwell
    Editor

  • AJ

    If you don’t initially like the genre you shouldn’t waste your time on a half-assed written review. Brett Dennen makes good and simple summer tunes and demonstrates his musicianship live in concert. You aren’t supposed to play this record when playing your newest version of Call of Duty and it’s obvious you spun this record once and if at all in its entirety.

  • Horrible, irresponsible, lazy, worthless and flat out stupid review. If somebody knows straight off this isn’t a genre of music they connect with, a responsible editor or publication would give the review to somebody else, or, failing that, the writer would be professional enough to beg off. Publishing it instead only makes everybody involved look like amateurs.

    Dennen makes clever, catchy, accessible pop music. He ain’t changing the world, but he’s got a way with a hook and a phrase, and he often seems able to channel 1970s Van Morrison at his most radio-friendly. “Sydney (I’ll come running)” is just about the most exhilarating 3-1/2 minutes of pop bliss I’ve heard in too damn long, and there are a bunch of other good tracks too.

    Really, this review is just an embarrassment, one of those narcissistic atrocities that says far more about the reviewer than the artist. You’d be better off taking a mulligan on this one and asking for a do-over…if you’re determined to rip the guy, at least get someone who can write more persuasively than this hack.

  • dubble

    Grace Duffy. I only know this name because I am impressed that a complete idiot like this can have a place to put his opinion. It’s fascinating that an idiot like this has even a shot at writiing.
    Incredible.
    It’s one thing to have bad taste but to also write moronic/senseless passages of garbage is another.
    I see Grace really likes that fresh new The Plot InYou release…yeah…well, here’s a little quote from the review.

    “The Father’s Seed” is the song with the aforementioned peculiar phone call, but once you’ve blinked at that, you’ll be happy to realize that this is a fine opener. The music is rapid and churning, the vocals hurried and intense. The verses feel rawer and more demanding than the melodic chorus, when they give way to stellar, clean singing and some anguished background effects.

    I’m not paraphrasing or making that up. Cut and pasted from this site right here.

    Well, Grace is an idiot. This is a very solid recorded. Sounds vintage but feels fresh.

  • Kevin

    Wow. Wish I could have the 3 minutes of my life back that I wasted reading this drivel. I don’t especially like the new album, but your analysis is so far off, its almost funny. How are you published? Apparently James Shotwell does not have very high standards. Score 0/10

  • Daloia

    Sorry you didn’t like this CD, I love it. Great, great fun to listen to. Fun pop music – lyrics remind of a young Paul simon. Love this new effort by Brent!!!!

  • Blzindian

    This is the worst review in the world. Your comments are unnecessary and tacky. Not sure how you got your job.

  • Miller

    Personally I agree.  I hear his music at work all the time, and he has, by far, one of the absolute worst singing voices I have ever heard in my life.  I do NOT think that the lyrics are well written at all, and I feel as though my life force is being ripped from me upon listening to it.  Come to think of it, there have been MANY times where I’m having a good day at work, then Brett Dennen’s garbage comes through the speakers, and my day is ruined, right then and there.  I feel that he has close to no talent whatsoever, and that he has no business in the music industry for ANY reason.  Grace, you just echoed everything I have been saying about this talentless hack for years.  I commend you.