The fifth album from Bryce Avary, AKA The Rocket Summer, finds the performer/writer delivering an upbeat album that is by far his best. Having toured through the spring with Switchfoot, Avary can be compared stylistically and lyrically to the pop/rock of Jon Foreman’s band, and fans of the latter should definitely be checking out Life Will Write The Words if they haven’t heard Avary before.
The longer I listen to The Rocket Summer, the harder it is for me to recognize the band that I couldn’t really enjoy just a few years ago. His delivery is less falsetto and more straightforward, and his lyrics seem to be less “angsty” than they were before. Maybe that comes from settling into who you are, and experiencing by age 29, world travel, business, and art in a meaningful way. It’s hard to deny that the guy has tried to pour his success into improving the lives of others (Call It Captivate, Invisible Children, To Write Love On Her Arms).
But the sound is just significantly better, it’s undeniable! By the time I got to “Prove It,” I was already shaking my head at the depth of production, the change in his voice (from 18 to 29 will do that, right?), and the way his lyrics didn’t grate on me. There’s a mashup here that naturally seems to occur with someone who can do the tour with these guys, but The Fray, Mat Kearney, and Switchfoot all seem to be ample comparisons, or John Mayer without the cheesiness (sorry).
“Old Love” asks if we’ve learned from our past, and harkens back to a better day (citing the love his grandparents have for each other). “200,000″ bangs it out on the piano in a nice change-up, but one which makes me wonder if he couldn’t do the whole album on the piano? It’s a love song, an ode to a relationship that has withstood the tests of touring, and it’s a solid entry in the “long distance relationship” mix-tape.
I could go on and on; this album just gets better the more I listen to it. I’ll openly admit that my expectations were pretty low, but Avary blew them away. He is a storyteller, and musician, and his delivery here allows for all the parts to function as one. Maybe it’s because he’s found that Life Will Write The Words, and he doesn’t have to force it anymore.