Why Don’t We use their sophomore album ‘The Good Times and The Bad Ones’ to explore a new sound.
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In an era where everyone wants to be the next best boy band, it’s easy to slip through the cracks. Luckily for Why Don’t We, the group been met with nothing but success. Composed of Jonah Marias, Daniel Seavey, Jack Avery, Zach Herron, and Corbyn Besson, the group formed in 2016 after meeting just one year prior. After releasing a few singles, some EPs, and a debut album, the boys took a nine-month hiatus before resurfacing last December.
Now they’re back in full swing and ready to show the world a new Why Don’t We. Their sophomore album, The Good Times and The Bad Ones debuted January 15, giving a new but welcomed sound to the L.A.-based fivesome. With 10 tracks and a 30 minute run time, the boys tackle themes of love, loss, highs, and lows – each track different than the last.
‘The Good Times and The Bad Ones’ – Why Don’t We
“Fallin’ (Adrenaline)” is such a killer way to kick off an album. There’s no better way to start a song than with the iconic drum line from Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead.” Something about it builds anticipation, as it contrasts with the rising synth before introducing Marias’ velvety vocals. This is before Seavey steals the show with his silky croon of the lyrics “You are my muse / I feel so reckless / Oh, you’re makin’ me, makin’ me, makin’ me give in.” Then, the drums kick right back in for the chorus paired with seamless harmonies. The record toys with the highs and lows of love and what we’re willing to put on the line for that rush.
Listen: “Fallin’ (Adrenaline)” – Why Don’t We
Emanating, coming of age film energy, “Slow Down” switches up the vibe, drawing you in with a sampled Smashing Pumpkins’ guitar riff. This is the type of record you’d play with the windows down on a sunset drive through the city. While mellow in nature, the boys contrast their prior feelings in “Fallin’” saying, “I think that we just need to slow down, slow down / Turn around / Things were so simple way before now, ‘fore now.” At one point or another, I think we’ve all felt the need to take a step back in a relationship to be sure we’re going in the right direction.
In an Instagram post about this “Lotus Inn,” Seavey said, “This song is very dear to me. It was meant to end our live show and bring overwhelming joy to the end of the night. This song is magical. I hope you all love it as much as I do.” The track certainly delivers the youthful energy you’d expect from a boyband with an upbeat tempo and cute lyrics like, “I wish the sun would look the other way.” It fills listeners with joy and makes you want to relive it over and over again.
Listen: “Lotus Inn” – Why Don’t We
“Be Myself” brings things to a slow, having more of an acoustic feel, relying on just a guitar and some background synths. The track had been teased in an episode of the group’s YouTube Original Series “30 Days With: Why Don’t We.” Written by Seavey, it recounts Avery’s experiences with anxiety. “We’re dancing on the edge of anxiety’s ledge and I might fall again,” Avery laments. There’s such a relatability to the record, making it feel grounded amongst the rest.
“Love Song” feels the closest to the sound Why Don’t We’s made themselves known for. It’s cute, it’s lovey, it’s sappy. The record doesn’t really stand out, but still works with the album as a whole. If anything, it feels like an interlude between two more heavy-hearted tracks. “Love Song” gives you a breather from the emotions of “Be Myself,” before dropping you into the emotions of “Grey.”
Just when you thought you’d be back to an upbeat tempo, “Grey” brings you right back into your feels. The boys really flex their vocals with some breathless falsettos and strong belts in this heartbreaking piano ballad. They paint a picture of what it’s like to lose the one you love, how everything can just turn to grey. It’s a classic “don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” ballad with lyrics like, “You’ve been there through it all / You answered all my calls / I should’ve never let you go.”
Listen: “Grey” – Why Don’t We
“For You” doesn’t let up on the heartbreak parade, with its opening line, “She said ‘I really miss the old you, I found someone better’ / I really miss the old me, maybe he was better.” What starts with a piano leads into a catchy beat before a dance-worthy bass drop in the chorus. Next to the other tracks, “For You” has a different swagger, leaning more into a 2015 Bieber vibe – a nice transition from the slow piano ballad and campfire acoustics.
I’ll Be Okay
Just like that, “I’ll Be Okay” brings you back to the fun upbeat tempo left behind in “Lotus Inn.” Playing on the “so wrong, it’s right” trope, “I’ll Be Okay” resonates with those who know that special someone might be bad for them, but they just can’t get enough. Saying things like, “I get scared when I think about the future / I’m a Jumpman, she’s a promise abuser / Hell I know that we’re bad for each other / I made my bed, but she tucked me under.”
Look At Me
Now, “Look At Me” takes a very smutty 180. Opening with a sample of Heath Ledger’s Joker from “The Dark Knight,” it’s clear this track will have a very different tone. It’s the lyrics that really seal the coffin with, “I know you like it cause you’re making all that noise, ohh / The way you look at me when you’re on your knees / Girl let me see those eyes.” This song has kink POV Tik Tok all over it, with its “come hither eyes” energy.
“Stay” acts like “Look at Me” never happened and goes back to regularly scheduled programming. Wholesome lyrics like, “I just wish things would be like they used to / But they’ll never will now I see right through you / Wish you could tell me all the ways that I miss you / Baby, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wish you’d stay,” help to be a great palette cleanser.
The Good Times and The Bad Ones
While The Good Times and The Bad Ones didn’t reinvent the world of pop, it did reinvent Why Don’t Me. The group certainly pushed their boundaries, trying out new sounds, playing with instruments, and throwing out solid sex appeal. Still, they were able to find a balance between their new and old sound. At times, the tracklist order feels a bit up and down. “Lotus Inn” would’ve been a stronger track to end on, in the same way, that they wanted to end their live shows. I personally would’ve tried to put space between “Fallin’” and “Slow Down.” While lyrically they pair well, the back to back leading samples left me with a funny feeling. As for “Look At Me,” that one just comes out of left field and I don’t think any song would’ve been a good lead or follow up to it. At its core, the album is light-hearted and an easy listen making a solid transition from tween to teen/young adult music.
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