Hedley's claim to fame is that frontman Jacob Hoggard was a fan favorite on the 2003 season of Canadian Idol before being voted off (much to his delight) in the semifinals. Hoggard never planned on making it so far in the contest, and ultimately realized he didn't even want to win, since that meant being tied to a record deal performing someone else's songs. Fast-forward a few years and now he's fronting his own band, Hedley, with former members of Vancouver's Everything After. On their self-titled debut, Hedley basically play a poppier, lighter-edged version of the rock performed by fellow countrymen Social Code, which only vaguely resembles the pop-punk of, say, Simple Plan, and leans somewhat closer to the camps of SR-71 or Bowling for Soup. But despite noble intentions to want to write and perform their own songs, it's just not enough to carry the guys all the way through this competent though largely uninteresting album. Even the swirling guitars and exuberant hooks of standout tracks like the empowered "On My Own" or "I Don't Believe It" aren't that memorable, taking a couple spins to really grab listeners at all. The ballad-like sap of tracks like "Trip" and "Saturday" are where Hoggard's borderline snotty vocals start to grate on one's nerves, and the lyrics don't really help his cause. Especially in a song like "Street Fight," lines like "Got in a street fight/With the I.R.S. and I'm alright/Took one to the chest but I'm fine" are a little perplexing when later followed with "But I'm not the only one with name-brand shoes on/You fucking moron." So, uh, they were the little guys who went up against the man and came out victorious, so please don't call them sellouts and yell at them for wearing Nikes...? Despite this music presumably being better than whatever the Idol folks would have forced out, Hedley are only bearable for those teens jonesing for their next cute-boy singalong faux-rebellious fix -- but most would be better off looking elsewhere even for that.
AllMusic Review by Corey Apar