Like Ben Kweller's Sha Sha, the Never's self-titled debut revels not only in its somewhat obvious influences, but the realization of its own strengths. The North Carolina combo certainly has a voracious appetite. It shows a flair for three-part, doo wop-style harmonies, tears into chunky Weezer riffs, slows things down with heartfelt piano balladry, and even deploys string sections and musical saws. Sound like a little too much for what amounts to a debut, especially for a bunch of young guys? Well, it probably is. "Hearts in My Eyes" does a pretty good job updating 1950s teen heartbreak rock, but singing about red roses and blue violets is a little shortsighted. It's the same setback that befell Kweller. While the Never are obviously very talented, there's no reason to toss all their tricks into the debut, especially if, lyrically, most of these songs are straight out of the "She left me!" or "She loves me!" departments. "I Love U X 3" and "Walk Through the Park" recall the Weez's harmonized guitars and thick distortion; "Bigger Than Jared" and "The Sara Song" have more dynamics, adding seething lyrical sentiment, atmospheric piano, and keys to the mix. Something like the string-laden instrumental passage "Someone Is Leaving" is nice, but it's out of place on this debut, since the album would have been so much stronger with just a few of its great ideas left out. Still, if the Never have this much to say this early, they probably have enough ammunition to hunker down for a while, and come back even stronger.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus