Daughtry

Leave This Town

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When he was recording his debut album in 2006, Chris Daughtry didn't have the time to assemble the real rock band he so desperately wanted to have, so it appeared under the band name DAUGHTRY without featuring any of the musicians who later became part of the group. That's not the case with Leave This Town, DAUGHTRY's second record: all five members are seen glowering on the album cover, floating like specters over an abandoned Californian street (presumably the city's citizens have already heeded the group's advice and abandoned this burg). The five rockers serve as visual evidence that DAUGHTRY is a band, not a person, and such explicit reminders are necessary because Leave This Town doesn't differ much in feel or form from DAUGHTRY, sounding for all the world like a remake of the debut. Overall, Leave This Town isn't quite as studio slick as its predecessor, but the four DAUGHTRYS who aren't Daughtry play with competence, not flair, cranking out post-grunge comfort food designed to soothe, not surprise. That was also the case with DAUGHTRY, but that record was fueled by Chris Daughtry's desire to be taken seriously, to prove that he belonged in the big leagues. Having achieved that goal, he's intent on staying at the top of the charts as long as possible, giving the people what they want in the form of furrow-browed rockers and brooding power ballads, all saved from their self-conscious sobriety by arena-level hooks, hooks that come from Daughtry and a variety of co-writers including Ben Moody and Nickelback's Chad Kroeger. Daughtry brings these big hooks down to human scale, injecting them with warmth if not quite mustering humility, and certainly avoiding mirth at all costs. For a man who sings "all that I'm after is a life full of laughter," he sure manages to avoid putting any sense of fun into his records, but that's just the legacy of grunge: after the early '90s, rock & roll was considered serious business indeed, and that's a lesson that Daughtry and DAUGHTRY heed. If they don't manage to have a lot of fun, their single-minded sobriety does mean that they avoid excesses, never succumbing to soul-baring indulgence or flights of instrumental fancy, which paradoxically turns into their strength: they have nothing on their mind other than making basic, black-and-white modern rock, and they do so efficiently on Leave This Town, a sophomore album that's every bit as satisfying as the first.

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