X Ambassadors “VHS” Review

X Ambassadors burst on the scene last year with their song Jungle being the advertisement for Beats during the 2014 World Cup. They followed Jungle with Renegades, a song used by Jeep for their Spring 2015 marketing campaign. Their album sounds like a mix of Imagine Dragons (heavy percussion and frequent shouting by lead singer Sam Harris) and Passion Pit (lots of emphasis on instrumental breaks).

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The album starts off with an interlude, one of 7 on the album, and quickly segues into their hit song Renegades. Unlike the rest of the album, Renegades is made for adult contemporary radio with its easy listening feel. Unsteady follows Renegades, and while the track has gotten positive reviews from many music critics, the song isn’t my favorite because of its repetitive nature. Hang On features heavy synths and bass riffs creating a sick background, but the lyrics lack substance.

Gorgeous is the highlight of the album. Good lyrics, great keyboard fills and an even better bass line combine to create a really good track. Imagine Dragons come in on the next track, Fear, to create a song with a little too much percussion and screaming for my liking. Nervous is a sneaky good tune with a really sweet horn background. Jamie N Commons joins the band for Low Life, his first of two features on the album. A distorted snare drum and bass drum help create a blueprint for the self-deprecating lyrics. B.I.G. seems like it was written for Imagine Dragons, but they passed it on to X Ambassadors because of its intensity.

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X Ambassadors really turn it on with the last three songs on the album. Loveless features a scattering bassline, a Ryan Tedder-esque imitation from Harris, and an appearance from a church choir in the final chorus. Jungle is an intense yet enjoyable track with very sophisticated background vocals. But X Ambassadors save their best tune for last: Naked. A catchy sax intro, a memorable chorus, and finally memorable lyrics(!!!!) make Naked into a fantastic song. Overall, the album has a few standout tunes, which will help X Ambassadors continue to blossom into one of the better Indie Rock bands out there today.

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