"Performed by American Hi-Fi with Butch Walker," Hearts On Parade's credits read, and that makes perfect sense. Stacy Jones has always wanted Hi-Fi to be Cheap Trick, and Walker's the rocker turned producer who's helmed records for the Donnas and Bowling for Soup with an ear for hooks and radio single gold. There isn't a drop of uniqueness anywhere in Hearts. But Jones and Walker lift everything from smart '70s pop to Fountains of Wayne sugar and blend it together into a shameless modern rock nugget. For charts that have already accepted Maroon 5's harmless jive, Hearts On Parade has a good formula. Opener "Maybe Won't Do" is a preening take on Joe Jackson's "Look Sharp," and "We Can't Be Friends" binds the Clash's "Magnificent Seven" to a bouncy chorus somewhere near Blur's "Girls and Boys." For even more mash-up fun, "Geeks Get the Girls" is a "Flavor of the Weak" rewrite that finds time to lift the chorus of the Trick's "Dream Police." There's more of the pop/trash culture references that were part of 2003's Art of Losing. "Everlasting Fall" revels in blasé suburban life over bouncy, keyboard-tinged pop, and "Something Real" looks for "something that matters" as it fades into an adult alternative haze. That's what's disappointing about Hearts On Parade. Jones details faceless friends and L.A. traffic in a way that suggests he's tired of it all, but his band just keeps searching for that guilt-free hook. Nothing risky, no commitment, and take whatever you need from the pop music till -- Walker and American Hi-Fi sacrifice substance to be everything to everyone.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus