Album Review: American Hi-Fi – Blood and Lemonade

American Hi-Fi are one of those bands that get brought up during those “remember them?” conversations you have at house parties or round the table at the pub. Probably you’ll collectively be able to remember about three songs by them and come to the conclusion that they were pretty naff but ‘Flavour of the Weak’ was kind of catchy.

It may come as a surprise then to hear that fast-forward to 2014 and they are releasing their fifth studio album, ten years after their self-titled debut. The key to any band’s longevity is to adapt and evolve, and that means the four-piece outfit from Massachusetts have got a serious task on their hands considering their music wasn’t exactly pulling up trees the first time around.

The problem that you immediately encounter on listening to ‘Blood and Lemonade’ is that it feels like you’re hearing something that was released in 2002. They are very much a band of their that era, a time when pop rock rough around the edges enough for Generation-X to dig was bothering the charts on a regular basis, and American Hi-Fi, along with the likes of Good Charlotte and The Used, were in their element.

This type of band haven’t aged well on the whole and as you listen to the opening couple of songs you wonder how the music is really going to translate to a modern audience, especially to those too young to even remember them from the first time around. Tracks like do ‘Coma’ display the band’s ability to pen some really catchy hooks and remind you that they’ve lasted it out this long for a reason, but it’s not enough to make those outside of their existing fanbase appreciate it.

It’s probably worth noting at this point that, if you didn’t already know it, American Hi-Fi pretty much make up pop deviant Miley Cyrus’s backing band. You can imagine they probably make a pretty penny doing this, which means they can afford to write songs for their own band without having to worry too much about record sales or what you and I think of them.

Having said this, their new material is certainly a lot more dynamic and on the ball than the slightly goofy teen movie soundtrack fare that we remember them for. Lyrics like “Hello Miss Misery, you are the cause and the effect, distorted melodies, it’s the only way that you connect” are certainly a big step forward from “Her boyfriend, he don’t know, anything, about her”.

In fact, ‘Portland’ is a really lovely piece of well written pop with quite a Ben Folds kind of feel to it. I wish they’d taken more of the album in this direction rather than the regularly corny and very forgettable moody hard rock that they seem to think they can drag out of its coffin and reanimate.

If you’re a big American Hi-Fi fan (I’m guessing such people still exist) then there’s every reason you’ll enjoy ‘Blood and Lemonade’ as a totally competent American Hi-Fi record. For everyone else there are just not enough selling points to make it worthwhile.


‘Blood and Lemonade’ by American Hi-Fi is out now on Rude Records.

American Hi-Fi links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Alex Phelan (@listen_to_alex)


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