Album review: Plain White T’s – Plain White T’s

Illinois pop-rockers Plain White T’s practice self-nostalgia on solid but safe ninth album…

Album review: Plain White T’s – Plain White T’s
James Hickie

Almost fell asleep on the drive home’, sings Tom Higgenson on Would You Even. ‘I wonder if you would give a shit / Got all these demoed songs on my iPhone / And if I die, then none of ’em would ever be hits'. Plain White T’s are no strangers to hits, with one massive one in particular, Hey There Delilah, closing in on one billion Spotify streams after almost two decades monopolising romantic playlists – a high benchmark for anyone to maintain.

PWT’s last album, 2018’s Parallel Universe, saw their pop-rock blueprint augmented by electronic elements with overcooked, somewhat hollow results. This follow-up marks a return to the more stripped back, straightforward storytelling that made the band’s name, then, which may explain the album’s self-titled status. Opener Young Tonight isn’t necessarily the best illustration of this simplification, though, with a host of production flourishes thrown into the mix to gild the lily – even if its chorus is arresting.

On the aforementioned Would You Even and the next track, You Plus Me, things kick up a gear thanks to some undeniable earworms, which work way better when unimpeded by sonic gloss (or perhaps the lack of it suggests PWT’s know when they’re on to a good thing). It’s a consistency that’s largely maintained throughout, with L-O-V-E and Girl From Pasadena sure to provide a soundtrack to formative heartbreak.

Your receptiveness to all this will, of course, depend on your appetite for tunes as wholesome as a TikTok of puppies being reunited with their grandmother, though nowhere near as deep. It’s the sound of a band returning to the sound that made them famous, with all the overly earnest hallmarks in place, but little else to reflect what its creators have learned, musically and emotionally, in the intervening years since they broke big. It’s something of a return to form, then, but a little on the regressive side too.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: All Time Low, Simple Plan, The All-American Rejects

Plain White T's is released on November 17 via Fearless

Check out more:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?