Like the Canadian equivalent of Chris Daughtry, ex-Idol contestant Jacob Hoggard walks a fine line between rock & roll rebel and manufactured pop pinup. Famous Last Words, the singer's second album with Hedley, delivers the same kick of Hedley's innumerable pop-punk colleagues, relying on a blend of snot-nosed vocals and guitar muscle that evokes the likes of SR-71 and Hot Topic in the same breath. Melodies abound here, and some -- particularly the candy-coated chorus of "Hand Grenade" -- are genuinely memorable. Still, the whole production is too polished for its own good, with even the best tracks sounding more like the work of a hitmaking machine (think the Matrix in full-fledged Avril mode, or Max Martin collaborating with Fall Out Boy) than something by an actual band. Famous Last Words remains largely uninspired despite its marketable sound, as if Hoggard's only goal is to remain relentlessly commercial. With glossy production courtesy of Greig Nori (former manager for Sum 41) and lyrics that long to be scribbled in the margins of school textbooks ("You know it's never too late, get up and start again"), the album comes off as something genetically engineered to be as digestible as possible. All the usual stops are made, from heartbroken ballads delivered with tough-guy attitude to auto-tuned stabs at inspirational rockers, and Famous Last Words does sound destined for airplay as a result, proving that Jacob Hoggard knows how to stay in the spotlight better than he knows how to craft original music.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey