If you're planning on buying the Plain White T's Every Second Counts on the strength of 'Hey There Delilah', don't. Save your money. By all means, download the single. Buy the 2006 'Hey There Delilah' EP if you have to. If you absolutely must, buy the band's second album, All That We Needed, on which the song first featured, in January 2005.
While it's a beautiful, touching tune, it's been over two and a half years since it first saw the light of day. In that time, Chicago's Plain White T's (or, to be fair, their record label) have churned the track out repeatedly on subsequent US releases. By now, Delilah has probably graduated, got married, had kids, and bought a duplex in Detroit. Seriously guys, get over it. Move on.
Now that the single has caught fire over here, it's been cynically bolted onto the start of the UK release of Every Second Counts, and it stands out like a sore thumb. In fact, the song's gentle, heart-on-sleeve sincerity just serves to highlight how hackneyed and vacuous the rest of the album is ('I wish that you could understand the way / I felt when she looked at me today' sings frontman Tom Higgenson on 'Tearin' Us Apart').
Frustratingly, the T's never stray from tired tales of teens breaking up and making up. 'Our Time Now' is a tableau of angst at the high school prom that's so clichéd it's almost sickening. 'Nervous hands and anxious smiles', Higgenson whines, 'it's an endless summer, I can feel the butterflies leading me through it'.
Sadly, the musicianship isn't any more ambitious. As is par for the pop-punk course, power chords abound and songs rarely top three minutes. True, Every Second Counts has a healthy array of hooks and harmonies, but it's all been done better by the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Get Up Kids and All-American Rejects. Penultimate slow-builder 'Let Me Take You There' is more sensitive and fares better, but the sad truth is, you're unlikely to make it that far through the album.
Every Second Counts has the stench of a band whose progress and creativity has been stifled by marketing masterplans beyond their control. Best avoided. --Richard Banks
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