Blue October: “I Hope You’re Happy” (Up/Down – Brando Records)

  Blue October’s been looking for a good time and place for them to make a bold change, and whether it was planned or not, they found their perfect timing here on I Hope You’re Happy. They took a leap of faith with this record, but it’s up to the true Blue October fans to tell if it will pay off or not. As a critic, I think the album is at the halfway point toward what they have been doing and that bold change that they have been heading toward.

  Don’t get me wrong, the album is a definitive step above the rest, but there are still some kinks that need to be worked out. Changes come in baby steps; in the course of an evolution, if you will. They are just about to reach their peak, their pinnacle of musical development; this new album is simply the stepping stone to get us there. Truly, there are songs on here that show a new mindset and method to making music. “King” and “Colors Collide” are sensational songs that sound reminiscent of bands like Twenty One Pilots and Arcade Fire — which is not a bad thing whatsoever.

  There are 12 songs on this new album, each one having just as much passion and vigor as the one before it. Unfortunately, that concept of change seems to be instilled in the record as a whole, because not one song — with the exception of the lead single and title-track — seems to stand out to me. They’re all well done, intricately produced songs, but they all follow the same idea of doing something a bit out of the ordinary for the primarily alternative rock band. They’re finding that new sound and it’s evident in each of these. The title-track is fifth on the record, but by then you already have a sense of what is to come — even moreso if you have already been listening to it and hearing it on the radio for a while, as it has been doing exceptionally well on the alternative charts and radio airways. Rightfully so, too, for it is the most dynamic song on the album.

  Although, as mentioned, a change is already evidently in the works. That, as well, can be found in these 12 songs, and as a listener it makes me proud to see and hear such a whirlwind of new ideas being intertwined in their songs. Something that caught my attention that I adore Blue October for doing is the incorporation of string arrangements. Alternative rock can be identified clearly through the background music, alone, and this orchestral approach is setting them apart in the best of ways.

  There is also an element of electronica and urban twists that you take notice right away. The opening track is almost cinematic in its in-depth lead up to the beat drop and vocals — both of which are outstanding and a very great way of making their mark as a band with a point to prove. The track is titled “Daylight” and comes soaring in, taking rock and squashing any preconceived ideas that some may thought came with listening to rock music. In “Daylight” there is that modern day flare, the distinguishable angst, and concise sound that Blue October truly is known for.

  I Hope You’re Happy debuts the band’s sense of maturity when it comes to music. The lyrics, style, and production are headed in the right direction, for sure, albeit there are some tweaks that could be made here and there that will make their next record stand out even more than this one. Its release is set for August 17, so you should take some time to listen to it and decide on your own if you find this record to be as sonically challenging and/or different than others before it. It is quite good regardless, so you won’t be wasting your time at all listening to this just over 50-minute piece of alternative rock greatness.