Leave This Town finds Chris Daughtry delivering cruel and unusual punishment on the ears of humanity for a second time. Inexplicably his band’s turgid rock offerings managed to top the Billboard chart upon the release of their self-titled debut album. But then, consider that Chris Daughtry came fourth on American Idol in 2006, and suddenly it’s not inexplicable at all.
For when it comes to advertising, it’s still hard to beat the likes of The X-Factor and American Idol. After more than six million copies of the first Daughtry album were sold worldwide, it would appear that televisual brainwashing has succeeded in convincing a frightening amount of people that this soulless pap is somehow worth listening to.
So, what is it that Daughtry do? Well, remember Nickelback? They do that kind of sincere but ultimately empty rock that, for reasons unknown, is extremely popular. In fact, Chad Kroeger has his twisted, pink devil claw involved here too, notching up a couple of co-writing credits on No Surprise and Life After You.
Undeniably these contributions are perfect MOR radio fodder, as you’d expect. Massively earnest, they sport low key verses followed by choruses designed for stadium rock sing-alongs that would ordinarily be accompanied by lighters in the air. Of course anyone finding themselves at a Daughtry gig and in possession of a lighter would be advised to go outside and smoke for a good couple of hours while thinking about what they’ve done.
The list of collaborators on this album saps it of any authenticity whatsoever, and let’s face it, for a rock band, authenticity is absolutely vital. Ben Moody (formerly of Evanescence, now co-writer for Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson) adds his golden touch to Open Up Your Eyes. Once again the big choruses leap to the fore, stuffed with meaningless lyrics (“welcome to the first day of your life, just open up your eyes”) that might resonate with anyone with an emotional age of eight but to anyone else will just sound hackneyed.
It is perhaps telling that the only song that Chris Daughtry wrote himself is possibly the best moment on an album that is full of spectacular clunkers. You Don’t Belong may be crammed with lyrics as abysmal as most of the other efforts on the album, but there are some nicely insistent riffs. In addition there is actually some genuine emotional weight to his vocals once he hits the chorus that appears to lacking elsewhere on the album. If only he, or more likely his record company, had faith in his “talents” then perhaps this would an album worth investing a little more time in.
Leave This Town is a stony faced, two-dimensional album that struggles to provoke the kind of emotional response that it clearly seeks to. Daughtry are hollow idols, devoid of fun, exuberance or a pulse. It’ll sell by the bucketload. Leave This Town? How do we get off the planet?