As vapid as nu-metal became once the pump backed up and started spewing its smelly backwash onto the stages of Ozfest, the fresh-scent hallways of what the industry calls "hot AC" might be just as empty. While the metal guys' latent high-school anger and crushed-velvet posturing is pretty hard to take, at least they get to turn up the amps and kick out the jock jams. In the beige world of hot adult contemporary, interchangeable white guys rock test-marketed riffs under a relatively distinguishable frontman's greeting-card haiku. Goofy nu-metallers may make music for chest-bumping in the arenas, but these guys are stuck writing soundtracks for Pottery Barn. In 1999, Vertical Horizon didn't have much with which to follow its breakthrough single, "Everything You Want." And yet the song's percolating groove provided enough sustenance for listeners led astray by Secret Samadhi, Live's pompous follow-up to Throwing Copper. Now, Vertical has returned with Go, an album that proves the band's lack of ideas wasn't a fluke, and reaffirms their status as third-tier imitators. "When You Cry" stands in for "Everything You Want" and introduces the album's catch phrase psychotherapy. "I can't wait until you let me down," Matthew Scannell sings over store-bought modern rock. "I'm Still Here" seems to cross the band's 1999 hit with Michelle Branch's "Everywhere," which was produced by Go helmer John Shanks. It's tiresome to keep making comparisons, but it's impossible not to when Vertical Horizon smothers whatever college rock identity it may have once had in layers of insipid radio filler. "Echo" is at once Go's hookiest and most opaque moment. As the familiar acoustic/electric, quiet-loud formula is applied yet again, Scannell indicts his band with another trite lyricism. "I don't want to be just another echo," he sings, evidently not realizing that he already is.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus