First getting recognition after Glee covered “This Is The New Year” last year, A Great Big World‘s popularity has gone to a whole new level after their heartbreaking ballad “Say Something” added Christina Aguilera to the vocal track. The track has hit #1 on iTunes, and with good reason. The restraint on the potentially sappy ballad is beautiful.
Well now the two-man duo, Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino, are ready to stand on their own four feet with their debut album, Is Anybody Out There? They end up coming across like a quirky OneRepublic with a little Rufus Wainwright flair thrown in. Their pop style has a nice blues element to it, and totally works on “Rockstar”, “I Really Want It” and “You’ll Be Okay”. They’ve got another devastating acoustic ballad in “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else” and the best track is “Shorty Don’t Wait”, a big bold jam that evokes Dave Matthews.
There are some missteps though. The guys get goofy on “Everyone Is Gay” and “Cheer Up”. While the tracks are definitely unique, their simplistic tone sounds like a children’s singalong. Not a good thing. “Land Of Opportunity” has fun with a vaudeville sound, but it ends up sounding messy.
The guys have a nice balance of pop ballads and offbeat tracks, but it’s not totally gelling yet. That’s okay. If these guys play their cards right, they are going to have a lot of time to perfect their unique style.