Recording information: Captain Cuts Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Dreamlab Studio, Los Angeles, CA; Studio Delux; Studio E, Chalice Recording, Los Angles, CA.
R5's second album finds the very blonde Lynch family singing and playing some very upbeat, perky modern pop. Like their strong first album Louder, Sometime Last Night doesn't get bogged down in soggy ballads, but instead deals in chipper, big-chorused midtempo pop with the occasional dance track. With songwriting split between professionals and the bandmembers themselves, and production farmed out to various teams, the album is glossy, slick, and loads of fun. Ross and Riker Lynch prove to be very engaging lead vocalists, and the songs they wrote and produced themselves are just as good as those turned in by the pros. Maybe even better, and definitely less calculated. Their "Dark Side" has a loose-limbed bounce that's missing from the pro tracks, the disco throwback, Justice-quoting "F.E.E.L.G.O.O.D." is actually more fun than anything the pros came up with, and "I Know You Got Away" shows off some nice arrangement skills and a sweeping power pop chorus. The ringers did turn in some pretty good songs, like the thumpingly uplifting "Let's Not Be Alone Tonight," which has one of those chanted choruses every folk-pop Mumford wannabe employed at one point in the early 2010s, and "Do It Again" is a lovely summer pop confection. Mostly though, their contributions are overshadowed by the band's efforts, which is a good sign for R5's continued artistic growth. (So is the fact that the one of the album's best songs, the uplifting '80s-meets-2010s "All Night," is a collaboration between the band and the pros.) There's really no reason their label couldn't fully turn the reins over to the band on the next record -- they may not score any major hits that way, but they could end up making a really impressive, grown-up album. For now, though, the band is doing fine and Sometime Last Night is another good teen-pop-on-the-verge-of-adulthood album, the equal of Louder for sure, and just as good as anything their competition is doing. ~ Tim Sendra