40 Below Summer looked to impress with their 2001 major-label debut, Invitation to the Dance, and largely succeed by offering up an eclectic batch of songs that are dripping with creativity. Invitation to the Dance at first glance may seem to be just another hard rock album, but along with further observation it is apparent that 40 Below Summer is striving to spice up what modern hard rock became in the 21st century. By combining hardcore breakdowns with melodic singing, a dash of aggressive hip-hop, and the worldly aspects of jazz, 40 Below Summer created a recipe that will satisfy the listener as well as sate one's soul. Max Illedge's unique vocal mannerisms help push 40 Below Summer forward, and his natural vocal ability make songs such as "Step into the Sideshow" and "Falling Down" stand out as must-hear tunes. Throughout the album there is a reoccuring sense of déjà vu, as was common with most releases in 2001, but 40 Below Summer overcome their minor similarities to truly be seen as an original band amidst the cluster of fledgling acts struggling to break through. 40 Below Summer's ability to keep the listener guessing and the album's repetitive appeal make Invitation to the Dance a surefire hit for those looking for something more out of hard rock than a down-tuned bass and simplistic lyrics.
AllMusic Review by Jason D. Taylor