March 21, 2014

"Me and My Broken Heart" by Rixton

In less than 12 hours I'll be on the road to Gulf Shores, Alabama for Spring Break. Not relevant to this post, but I'm pretty excited about it, so I thought I'd share.

Now, this week's free single isn't something I'm likely to play from a boombox on the beach this week, but the group that wrote it is pretty awesome. "Me and My Broken Heart" is a trite little pop hit, but the group that put it together is a foursome of budding pop stars from the UK calling themselves Rixton. They released their first single last year, "Make Out". It's pretty standard party anthem fare - very catchy. What stands out is the music video, which parodies Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Robin Thicke in one fell swoop.

If this music video serves to do anything, it showcases how creative and unashamed Rixton is in their quest to show off their talent. And someone noticed (a very important someone at that). Scooter Braun - famous for signing Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and others - signed Jake Roche (lead vocals), Danny Wilkin (bass guitar/keys), Charley Bagnall (lead guitarist) and Lewi Morgan(drummer), and the group changed their name from Relics to Rixton to prep them for the pop scene. They've released their first EP sharing the name of the free single, Me and My Broken Heart, and they accomplish a sound that harkens to Maroon 5, but with an English twist and a youthful abandon that you don't get out of Adam Levine anymore.

All that said about the group, the choice of free single doesn't do much for me. Let's look at why.

First, props for the clever music video. This is pretty good cinematography for a low budget lyric video.

Like all of the recent singles I've looked at, this one starts by introducing the hook. We get Roche's vocals; sounds a lot like Adam Levine, right? The first verse brings the sound down making it easy to understand Roche's lyrics and focus on the melody. You get a first taste of the groove - it feels almost reggae influenced with such syncopation, and it's a solid beat. I'm still on board at this point, but when the song shifts into the first chorus is when I start to have problems with it.

A common gripe of mine is songs without a sense of flow, or progression. A song sounds best when written as a painter crafts a painting; layers upon layers of paint until the work is complete. By comparison, this song sounds more like a puzzle; the verse piece connects to the chorus piece, and then to another verse piece to form a picture, but you can still see the cracks between the pieces. The jumps from segment to segment keep the listener from letting their focus and emotions naturally rise and fall with the song.

Musical segmentation aside, for a song about heartbreak and loneliness, it lacks a lot of depth. The lyrics and the cheery sounding guitar and keyboard work in the choruses don't lend themselves to a song about heartbreak. By comparison, the verses are really quite cool. The groove is interesting without being overcomplicated, and the chord structure implies a greater sense of... gravitas. But because of the choruses, this song is, for me, like a Little Debbie snack cake. It tastes alright, but it's just a bunch of empty sugars.

Plus, in the music video they waste a perfectly good burrito. I mean, who does that?

But I really like Rixton! Didn't see that one coming, did ya? I took the time to peruse their YouTube channel, and the four of them have done some really amazing work. Their cover songs specifically are, frankly, kickass. My favorites were their rethought cover of Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble", Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison", Rita Ora's "How We Do"and their mash-up of "My Love" by both Justin Timberlake and Route 94. The gents of Rixton put their own unique spin on each of these - some of them I would call better than the original.

Musical covers aside, a couple of the other tracks on their EP are nice as well. "We All Want the Same Thing" is a racy English house spin on pop music, and "Hotel Ceiling" has the musical depth and heartbreak that I had hoped for from the free single, "Me and My Broken Heart". Between these and their YouTube channel, you can tell that these guys are really, properly talented. The four boys of Rixton are what One Direction should be; they've got the British accents, they've got the boyish good looks and the pop hit radio sound. But these guys can actually harmonize with each other, and, by jove, they play their own instruments! What an idea.

So I think Scooter Braun is on to something, especially having picked them up when they're still so young - about my age. That gives them plenty of time to iron out the immature, formulaic pop influences, put some great songs on the radio and produce some really great albums in what I predict will be a very bright future. "Me and My Broken Heart" is just one lackluster track in a collection of displays of talent. I give it

2.5 out of 5

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