It’s hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for Ryan Star, one of the most promising contestants on 2006’s Rock Star: Supernova. He lost, not even making it to the final rounds, but he was well loved by the audience and producers, brought back toward the end of the season for a cameo, but he never could quite get a studio album off the ground until 2010 when he released 11:59. It was long enough for Star’s presence to be slightly diminished -- he kept working, opening for David Cook and appearing on Opie & Anthony’s morning zoo -- but 11:59 is the kind of slick, splashy debut designed to launch a career that has no ties to television. Thing of it is, it’s so cleanly commercial that it could use an outside boost, something to lend this collection of atmospheric anthems, passionate pleading, manicured rocking, and snappy AAA pop a bit of a defining personality. Without it, 11:59 is simply very accomplished yet somewhat anonymous adult alternative pop, falling somewhere between Rob Thomas -- Matchbox Twenty’s producer Matt Serletic did produce this -- and Coldplay, something big, glassy, and bold that still never quite demands attention. Star has sturdy melodies to support this giant production, and even if his vocals can sometimes be swallowed by the enormity of the proceedings, what counts is the overall product, which is assured radio-ready AAA pop, the kind that would have slid onto the airwaves anytime between 1997 and 2010.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine