I’ll admit I listen to some fairly loathed bands (check the DC reference above). I spin Third Eye Blind a bit. The first two System of a Down records are OK. But Rookie of the Year marks a new, strange realm for me and my music fandom, because they ostensibly recall something I swore to destroy: nu-emo.
Sweet Attention kicks off with “Feel Like New,” and the comparison between Dunson’s vocals and those of Moog-advocate Ronnie Martin are strong. Smooth, kind of slithery, and just shy of hitting a nasally whine. The instruments aren’t too heavily important - the vox are key - although there is way more tambourine on this track than there needs to be. What sets Martin apart from the Secondhand Serenades and the Crash Romeos of the world, though, is that he actually knows how to write hooks. Rookie of the Year understands the meaning of a pop song.
While the second half of the album devolves into an indistinct electro-pop hodgepodge, I can find merit in the opening tracks. “Asleep With You” is as an adequate a pop rock song as anything else on VH1, and the same goes for numbers like “Falling From the Sky” and “What is Love,” which boasts cowbell. That’s noteworthy, right? I’ll give credit where it’s due, and say that Rookie of the Year ain’t that bad. Hell, maybe they’ll open for Maroon 5 sometime.