Recording information: The Hobby Shop Studios, Highland Park, CA; Wonder Studios, Elmhurst, IL.
Photographer: James Minchin.
Nearly a decade removed from the super success of "Hey There Delilah," Plain White T's are beyond trying to replicate their breakthrough single, but they're not above swiping a few moves from other mainstream alt-rock groups that came in their wake either. American Nights, arriving almost five years after 2010's Wonders of the Younger, finds the band copping a bit of Vampire Weekend's worldbeat on "Heavy Rotation" and doing the Mumford & Sons stomp on "Dance Off Time," forgivable feints to fashion that the group nevertheless pulls off with some aplomb (and they're better than the weak-tea pseudo-reggae swoon of "Someday You're Gonna Love Me"). Most of American Nights is firmly within the band's pop wheelhouse, alternating between giddy, gilded AAA pop ("American Nights," "Never Working") and fleet-footed acoustic ditties ("Time to Move On"). As befitting their plain-Jane name, there's nothing particularly flashy about the pop of Plain White T's, but on American Nights they construct it and execute it as well as they ever have. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine