If Too Young to Fight It found Dan Keyes burning up the dancefloor, its successor relocates him to the rock club, where emo-pop anthems emanate from the stereo and new wave revivalism reigns supreme. Keyes has explored those genres before, both with Recover's unapologetically emotive work and Young Love's club-ready debut, but One of Us is the first to feature a synthesis of the two. The frontman dives headfirst into the mix, embracing everything from fat, gauzy synthesizers to R&B basslines, robotic samples, handclaps, and assorted '80s-era flourishes. This is party music, and Keyes makes no attempt to inflate it with lyrical prowess or songwriting depth, preferring instead to shine a spotlight on the glossy, spruced-up surface. "I got my black boots on, gonna show up late," he declares in "Black Boots," "but that's ok because we won't leave 'til dawn." It's a simple sentiment that reflects the world One of Us caters to: the world of late-night Manhattan bars and dancefloor affairs, a world in which footwear symbolizes the extent to which one is ready to party. Throughout it all, the emphasis remains on rock, with even the most danceable songs taking root in electric guitars and live percussion. "Black Boots" even shoots for stadium-sized grandeur, its singalong chorus aimed at the cheap seats, before dissolving into an Auto-tuned outro. The songs suffer whenever Keyes dials back the sonic spectacle, with tracks like "Down on Me" owing more to post-grunge balladry than contemporary dance-rock. Despite the album's surface-oriented appeal, however, the bulk of One of Us remains stronger than Young Love's previous release, as it wisely targets the feet instead of the head.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey