I've never bought a Pentatonix album before, but after being wowed by them on Youtube for years and then watching them live earlier this year, I was interested to see what PTX originals sound like. All of the songs (bar the one cover) are co-written by the members of the band. So here's my review of the much anticipated first original offering by Pentatonix!
Na Na Na
The first track really encapsulates what PTX is all about-it's upbeat, happy, great to clap along to, and a great singalong anthem. It's got a very Glee-esque feel.
Can't Sleep Love
The only single released from the album is an amazing pop track with an RnB tinge thanks to Scott's lush lead vocal and a vibe that reminds me of a Max Martin production. This is definitely one of the stand out tracks and really cements PTX's position as a pop band that can compete with everyone else in the charts. When I first heard it, it reminded me of 'Give It To You' by Jordan Knight which was a huge hit in the 90's. It's the harmonies and stoppy/starty bits that remind me of that track-a definite fave.
Sing sits next to 'Na Na Na' as another anthemic banger that makes you want to, yes you guessed it, SING! Special moments include Scott using the gruffer edge to his voice (which I love!), Kevin doing a cute little rap section and just before the gorgeous ending, whistle note ad-libs! My ears pricked up at this point because I hadn't heard PTX reveal their whistle note prowess before. After some digging around Youtube I discovered the whistle notes could be courtesy of Kirsty OR Mitch as both of them can do it, showcased nicely in THIS video!
This is my current favourite from the album! It starts off with a sort of 'Stand by Me' by Ben E King bass line and then explodes into beautiful bright melodies with cutesy lyrics. By the time the chorus hits and the beat drops properly, you're singing along at the top of your lungs and feeling like it's summer. A special nod must be given to Kevin for the amazing switcheroo beatboxing that he keeps changing up all the way through. It really makes the song build and build and takes it from a good song to a really great one.
I love the vocal production on this-it's very different to everything up until now on the album and provides a nice change of pace. It's the kind of song that makes you bop up and down and make the whole car bounce! It reminds me a little of 'jumpin' jumpin' by Destinys Child in the verses. Lyrically it's the first bit of attitude I've heard from PTX. I love PTX with attitude!
First Things First
More attitude! I'm really loving the way the album is evolving. This is another number with a great message, but it has more of an Rnb feel and the production has a Justin Timberlake vibe-which really suits PTX! Once again Scott gets to show us another side of his unstoppable vocal.
A really sweet love song about a timeless relationship. This one's the kind of song you want to listen to when it's cold and raining outside and you're inside with a warm drink. I suspect this song will be the soundtrack to many a romantic moment!
If I Ever Fall In Love ft Jason Derulo
This was a pleasant surprise. An already amazing and well known acapella track given the PTX treatment. Of course they take it to a whole new level-there are so many goosie moments in this. Jason Derulo is a nice addition to the mix, especially as he's the artist of the moment, but to be honest PTX don't need anyone to help them shine on this.
On 'Cracked', PTX give us a taste of their soul-rock side. Scott delivers a churchy vocal (especially on the clapped bits) and then a chorus worthy of head banging. At times I get shades of Gnarls Barkley. Special moment-Scott's insane ad lib in the middle.
WaterKirsty really gets her moment to shine on this one. The edgier feel works perfectly against her sweet tones. This provides a chill moment on the album, a great driving track.
Take Me Home
PTX go back to traditional acapella on this one with simple clicks and pretty harmonies. It's easy to forget this side of them because you get used to all the 'tricks' and amazing vocal feats that they do, but here PTX remind us that at heart they are a traditional acapella group.
New Year's Day
This is another one of my favourites on the album. It perfectly encapsulates that wistful, nostalgic, hopeful, bright-eyed feeling that I always get on New Year's. You know, when you're thinking about the past and looking forward to the future, and doing it with people you love the most in the world. That is what this song is. This will definitely be on my playlist for New Year's. It's actually really clever of them to write a New Year's anthem, it's about time we had a new one (no shade to Cliff Richard).
Light in the Hallway
I'm already feeling emotional after the last track and then they hit us with this. They sound like beautiful ethereal mer-people reminding us to count our blessings and that everything will be ok. It's another winner. I've got to take a minute to say how beautiful Avi sounds on this. He is normally impressing us with his bass vocal talents in PTX acapellas so if you don't know PTX intimately, you might not know that he also sings amazingly in the higher registers of his voice. I already knew this having seen them in concert so I was really happy that Avi got his moment on the album too, and on a song that really suits his Josh Groban type vocal.
The deluxe version of the album ends with bonus tracks, covers of 'Cheerleader' (Omi), 'Lean On', (Major Lazer and Diplo) and 'Where Are U Now' (Justin Bieber) which you will already have heard if you follow them on their Youtube channel (subscribe to them HERE).
PTX are a young group of friends who continue to amaze and inspire. At the heart of it they are talented singers who harmonise and create beautiful arrangements. Beyond that they have managed to entertain huge crowds in concerts worldwide and have released lots of mixtapes, EP's and Christmas albums to great success. But with this album they have stepped into new realms of possibility-they can sing, write, win a Grammy, and release a successful album, something plenty of naysayers would have thought they could never achieve. I hope they continue to go up and up!
Are you a fan yet? Let me know in the comments!