Although the band built their success on a foundation of yearning power pop and sugary pop punk, American Hi-Fi's fifth album, Blood & Lemonade, finds the band returning with an album of rough-hewn hard rock. Although it's possible to hear strains of Cheap Trick in the band's longing, melodic vocals, a constant stream of snarling guitars sounds like an altogether different beast. With an opening riff that feels like it was lifted from the playbook of Stone Temple Pilots, "Golden State" eases listeners into the heavy stuff as it seamlessly shifts gears between the driving opening and chorus and the wistful verses. By the time the listener has reached songs like "Killing Time," however, American Hi-Fi have fully embraced the grit and grime of rock, blasting the listener with a wall of distorted guitar and booming drums. While the band have embraced their dark side, it seems as though they couldn't completely abandon their pop tendencies. Sunny and carefree, "Portland" feels like a call back to the band's early days, offering listeners a portal back to 2001 with its harmonized guitars and breezy, easygoing vibe. Even though American Hi-Fi have changed some in the 13 years since their debut, it's clear that power pop is a sound that lives in the band's DNA. No matter how tough a facade is constructed, the band's sense of harmony always shines through. Though this helps Blood & Lemonade feel familiar to longtime fans of the band; it makes the album feel as though it's fighting with itself, ultimately leaving the record feeling more conflicted than confrontational.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney