There is something about Anthony Green that always keeps fans returning for more. Maybe it’s his impressively high vocal range, or that he occasionally performs in a dress when the mood is just right, or the undeniable fact that behind the vocalist’s small stature and soft-spoken demeanor lies a courageous individual whose fervor has contributed to his gradual success since his days as lead singer in the post-hardcore collective Saosin.
When Green first debuted as a solo artist with his album Avalon, he reassured skeptics by showing them a side that had never been exposed in Saosin or in its experimental counterpart, Circa Survive. Exchanging the reverberated, airy atmosphere of Circa for a pop-ier, easier-to-digest sound, Green proved that he could very well be one of music’s most talented songwriters. Avalon acquainted us with a musician who could easily be a near-perfect balance of Kurt Cobain’s angst and frustration, and John Lennon’s serenity and insight.
Now, Green returns with Beautiful Things, an album that confidently takes chances that are at times rewarding, and unsatisfying at others. The opener “If I Don’t Sing” explodes with a hard, bluesy back-beat, Green’s joyful melancholy backed by driving drums and powerful guitars. “I’ll always be unhappy, one way or the other,” sings Green in the chorus, the proclamation backed by Dear Hunter-esque intensity and dynamic.
The piano and acoustic guitar-driven “Moon Song” soars with tribal drums, while the Americana-inspired “Just to Feel Alive” exudes Beach Boys pop-iness, as waves of acoustic guitar move gracefully over a softly-hit snare drum.
The album takes an interesting turn on its guest-featured tracks, with “Right Outside” standing out the most. Deftones’ Chino Moreno accompanies Green on a retrospective journey involving a relationship in question, propelled by electronic, almost hip-hop sounding percussion and reverberated guitar.
The album is not completely cohesive though. Some songs take time to start moving, and even then, it does not end up being as rewarding as expected. “When I’m on Pills” is a perfect example of this: The song’s lack of direction results in stagnation, with Green singing over bland synths that become redundant quickly. In trying to make each song distinguishable from one another, Green sacrifices their appeal, relying on insightful lines such as, “so wrapped up with what you can’t have,” or “make sure you make time for everything you love,” that aren’t as profound because of the lackluster arrangements accompanying them.
Green’s strong point has always been his songwriting, but what hinders him on Beautiful Things are the musical ideas that back him. Although he is willing to take challenges, Green’s lack of caution with songs like “Do it Right” and “Blood Song” show that the artist still needs to refine his sound and stick with what truly fits.