It really is too bad that major labels exercise so much control over the music business. Otherwise, Danger Radio might become huge very quickly. On Used and Abused, they take the formula for making amazing pop music, stretch it, break the limits, and put their own twist on it. And yet, what may be one of the best pop/rock albums of the year will most likely be overlooked completely.
There is no denying the similarities to Maroon 5 on Used and Abused. Mike Elizondo, who has produced Maroon 5 albums (as well as Eminem), shared the recording with Mike Green of Paramore fame. With the slick combination of R&B, boy-bands, and The Cab-style pop/punk, Danger Radio may seem like they’re ripping off the band of “This Love” fame. However, their lyrics are less about sex and contain more variety, their sound is less apologetic, and they trade the jazz influence for a Latin influence. “One More Chance,” a stand-out track and potential hit single, combines a Marc Anthony flair with chorus falsettos reminiscent of N*Sync. And the surprising part? It works.
Those looking for new, different, unique music may turn away from this album faster than Superman from Kryptonite, but can we really afford not to feed our guilty pleasures sometimes? The bouncy, Ben Folds piano of the title track paired with the blunt lyrics (“use and abuse me, but I won’t be comin’ back no more”) monopolize the ears, while the singalong closing track “Where I Started” sticks in the head and refuses to leave. Even the more melancholy songs like “Another Lesson in Love” and “Kiss ‘n Tell” are danceable and catchy without being over-the-top.
Fortunately, Danger Radio stop just short of being too sugar-sweet. Nearly every song could possibly be a radio hit, and not one track is weak. Some sound almost like Rob Thomas doing solo work (“So Far Gone”), and others take on handclaps and synthesizers to put forward an interesting type of desperate love song (“Alive for the First Time”).
There is no indie here; there is no Guitar Hero potential; there is no lush concept album. What is on Used and Abused is fun, bouncy, memorable, and one of the only positive results ever to come out of the boy-band phenomenon.