On the Rocket Summer’s sophomore release, 22-year-old Bryce Avery returns with a piano-heavy power-pop album that exhibits his past appeal (catchy songwriting and youthful energy) and also his past faults (whiny vocals and cringe-worthy lyrics).
Avery, who handles all the vocal and instrumental duties on this album, shows that he is a competent songwriter who can not only craft a hook, but also belt out a melody that is well worth humming as you go about your day. Songs like the weepy-to-rocking opener “Move To The Other Side Of The Block,” the acoustic-driven “I’m Doing Everything (For You),” and the pop-rock of “Show Me Everything You’ve Got” recall Copeland, while the up-tempo piano rockers “I Was So Alone,” “Around The Clock,” and “Story” play like outtakes from a Something Corporate album. Avery even finds time for some ballads like the soft piano number “Treasures,” the simple acoustic “Goodbye Waves And Driveways,” and the closer “Christmas Present.”
Despite Avery’s knack for poppy songwriting, his vocals spend too much time dwelling in the realm of nasally cries. Throughout the album Avery raises his voice to a half shout, a tone that sounds much more convincing, but never stays with this for too long before returning to his emo whine.
His lyrics are also still pretty awful. I don’t know if he is just too concerned with finding rhymes or if he is really just that bad at writing lyrics, but the results often drag down his songs. Avery mixes juvenile lines like “I’m wanting this to be a supernatural flood of life,” and “I wanna be just like that mountain / I want to stand taller and bigger than the rest,” with predictable and overused rhymes like, “No, well this won’t be a sad song / There’s gonna be claps and singing along,” “'Cus this ain’t where it’s at / and my friends will second that / and I gotta admit sometimes it’s pretty sad, but it’s like we’re our own ‘Brat Pack’ / we’re always kickin back, nobody can take that / and that is that,” and “You don’t know just when to stop / you’re living your life to be on top / so step back and be real / and just admit the way you feel.”
In the end, "Hello, Good Friend" just doesn’t add up. Avery can play a lot of instruments and write some charming pop music; now he just needs to figure out the rest of the equation by adding some depth to his lyrical content and finding a vocal range that isn’t so grating.