Liner Note Authors: Ian Axel; Chad King .
Illustrator: Steve Wilson .
Photographer: Joseph Llanes.
Following a monster hit and avoiding the dreaded one-hit wonder bin is a daunting task. After 2014's "Say Something," their unexpected smash with Christina Aguilera, A Great Big World had to do something to avoid a sophomore slump. Instead of recording a collection of treacly "Say Something" retreads, they set out to just make music that they wanted to make. The result is When the Morning Comes (Epic), an album littered with more hip-hop beats and handclaps, more rousing choruses and uplifting melodies. It's a bigger sound than their debut, jam-packed with positivity. Many of the songs sound fit for arenas, OneRepublic style; all of them are ready-made for massive singalongs. The breezy radio-friendly hits are plenty ("Kaleidoscope" and "Come On"); they'd sit nicely alongside the poppiest of Coldplay and Imagine Dragons (especially on "Won't Stop Running"). A few piano tinklers ("All I Want Is Love" and "Hold Each Other") sound a little too familiar, but the overall sunny vibe carries the album forth. Much of the songs here sound like they could be grand Disney animation themes, fit for wannabe heroes and kids with big dreams. Album highlights swerve a little down a less bombastic path. "Oasis" is a boom-clap mega-ballad that sounds plucked from the best of Backstreet Boys' latter-career adult material. Standout track "Where Does the Time Go" similarly shows off their maturity, depth, and vocal abilities with aching prettiness and poignancy. It's an overall earnest and heartfelt affair, which should help them find a life beyond their heretofore biggest hit. ~ Neil Z. Yeung