While being very up-front with its influences and where it fits into the modern rock scene, the Chicago fivesome has stepped up its game from previous albums, putting some extra crunch in its fluid sound.
Standout tracks tend to be the more biting ones, like lead single “Hate (I Really Don't Like You)” and “So Damn Clever,” which serve as the unexpected (though not unwelcome) shards of glass in a sometimes too easily swallowed bag of sugary songs. While seeming simplistic, the songs transcend being memorable to the point where a lobotomy couldn't scrape them out of your consciousness. Not that you'll mind, that is.
Ironically, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the sappiest track on the album also proves to be one of the more likeable ones. The acoustic “Write You a Song,” shows frontman Tom Higgenson's vocals at their most vulnerable and relatable, proving that underneath all the slick production are five legitimate musicians who make their contemporaries look like amateurs.
Though it's taken some time for the band to finally get its share of mainstream attention, it takes the mantra of its album title seriously by being years ahead of any comparable bands with its musicianship.