Release Date: Nov 19, 2013
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Pop Idol, Post-Grunge
Fun does not seem to come easily to Chris Daughtry, the leader and namesake of DAUGHTRY. Even when he was the leading rocker on American Idol at the peak of its popularity, he never seemed to enjoy being on the big stage and that sourness carried over to his professional career, when he consciously chose to brood instead of party. This served him well for a while, but eventually the specter of middle age loomed, both in his personal life and in his career, as he started to stare down the horizon of a decade in the biz.
Seven years after he placed on American Idol, Chris Daughtry and his band are opening up their would-be grunge to more nuance: folk instruments and synths, smoother high notes tempering Daughtry's bellow, "boom-b'boom" vocal-bass hook lightening the gender war in "Battleships." The sound on Baptized somehow links U2 to Rascal Flatts, adding Springsteen stances in "Wild Heart." More unexpectedly, there's also a banjo shuffle where Daughtry chooses Van Halen over Van Hagar, catalogs some of his other heroes and wonders who wrote Hole's songs. "Long Live Rock & Roll," it's called – a defense, perhaps, against anybody claiming guys like him helped kill it. .
From the highly conflicted and self-loathing legacy of grunge sprang “post-grunge,” a subgenre built on embracing all the formula, cynicism, and cheesy cock-rock tropes implicit in its parent genre. With its slavish love of '70s album rock, grunge was always an innately conservative genre, and post-grunge has proudly embraced every red-state atom, giving us bands like Puddle of Mudd and Creed. The latter seems to be a particularly significant point of reference for Daughtry, whose new album, Baptized, might as well be subtitled A Dozen Even More Listless Variations on “With Arms Wide Open”.
The work of Devonté Hynes radiates a thorough, passionate, forgetting-to-eat-or-sleep love for the last 30 years of pop. His current project, Blood Orange, is a trans-Atlantic notion of urban dance music from the early ‘80s to the early ‘90s: freestyle, Prince ballads, Janet Jackson’s “Control,” Neneh Cherry. It reads now, on balance, as a New York sound.
Chris Daughtry shifts gears on his fourth record by stepping away from the arena guitar rock that made him a star. Daughtry strips his sound to more acoustic textures and even ventures into electro-pop. At times, the change is refreshing, yet too often he seems to think the world needs more songs evoking Train or Lifehouse. Only the powder keg rocker “Traitor” diverges from the new approach.