There are a lot of bands out there like Amber Run: Coldplay, Bastille, Kodaline. The list goes on. Nice, boring pop-rock bands making nice, boring music and selling far more albums than they deserve to. With their debut album 5AM, Amber Run had one thing to prove: that they aren’t just another one of these bands, that they can be something more.
And at times they almost manage that. The title track is understatedly sublime, whereas songs like ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Spark’ are begging to be blasted out all over summer. But for the most part, the band from Nottingham fall very, very short.
You see, to call this album overproduced would be an understatement, especially on singles ‘Just My Soul Responding’ (which has a chorus so bland it almost sounds wrong not coming out of Chris Martin’s mouth) and ‘Noah’, which has been re-mastered for the album and in the process had every ounce of emotion sapped out of it. The whole thing comes across as one 45-minute long painstaking calculation with an eye set on mainstream success. It is absolutely swamped with clichés, at one point even including the line “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”, and despite the occasional glimpse of the atmosphere and genuine emotion these boys can conjure up, originality seems like a completely foreign word.
By the final three songs ‘Good Morning’, ‘Shiver’ and ‘See You Soon’ what little momentum the album had is lost, as it peters out into a muddled, confused mess. Closer ‘See You Soon’ is the worst offender, sounding as if the record label sent out a memo asking for any old generic ‘sad song’ and released the first, blandest drivel they could find.
It really is a shame, that a group that a year ago showed so much promise can only be one album into their career and already be sounding exactly like the rest of the crap out there.