The Script - 'Breakeven'
In my endeavours to work out what to say about this song in an informed and reasonable manner, I had a read of The Script's biography on their official website. Apparently they "are an Irish trio whose music boasts the kind of artful twists sure to turn all preconceptions on their head." This is proper soul music melding indie and hiphop like a blower twists glass into beautiful shapes. Rock music for stadiums with the intimacy of r'n'b. This is going to blow all of our minds.
Look, there's no particularly easy way to say this but you guys have heard of Toploader, right?
That said, I'm a little bit torn about this song. I can't entirely work out whether the lyrics are the most god-awful head-on-table pile of cack I have ever heard or really very touching, which is rather the dilemma with a lot of these sort of songs; would I find this all deeply moving if Jesse Lacey from Brand New was to shudder and sweat it out across one of their late-night shaky soundscapes? If so, why then and not now?
Well there's no real reason, I suppose: I used to really like Turin Brakes and there's something to be said for this kind of gently twee patter-rock, after all, Incubus have made a career of songs that sound not totally dissimilar to this one. On the other hand, the back-catalogue of songs that sound like this is spectacularly expansive. In a world of gently-lilting heartbreak, emotions are competitive.
There's a part of me that suspects somewhere deep at the back of this song there's a producer who's playing it out to the Coldplay market. There're some genuinely quite interesting touches here, like the guitar-as-police-siren noise under the bridge seems badly placed (as though someone said "hey awesome I can do this; where can I do it?" instead of really thinking it sat well in the song) and I do like the "when a heart breaks it don't break even" lyric, even though I can't quite remember what it is ripped off from.
There are some clunkier moments, though and the first verse, in particular, is too self-conscious. There's bits where a breathy, desperate confessional might have held up to its awkwardness but a polished half-ballad sounds a little bit dishonest. In order for the vocals to be effective within the bounce of a pop song (and let it never be said that there's anything wrong with bouncy pop, especially bouncy pop mixed with emo half-ballads) you need a voice as distinctive as Joel Pott from Athlete and while Danny Script's voice is technically good, it kind of needs something wrong with it, some cracks or squeaks or breakages, to carry off this kind of thing.
But it's inoffensive and it probably means something to someone. It's just not quite what it WANTS to be.