Branding is one of the quintessential pillars of success in life. Whether it’s applying and interviewing for college or a job and selling yourself to people who make the final decision or obtaining a label to your style of artistry, everything tends to have a brand or label associated to it. It’s an unfortunate side effect of how society operates, but it’s a cold truth that many people have come to accept. Musicians get branded in the same way and shifting away from one brand into another can be an incredibly hard task to pull off. Previously known for a more distinct rock sound under the former moniker of Cherri Bomb, Hey Violet is the outcome of a rebranding that coincided with a stylistic shift towards pop rock. Fast forward to the here and now and Hey Violet are finally set to release their debut album From the Outside (under this specific moniker) after multiple setbacks and member changes. The result of all this is a sound that has changed course from the pop rock realm and feels lost somewhere between pop and alternative.
Being forthright, From the Outside is incredibly polished from a production level, and musically it definitely creates an atmosphere that will garner interest, but the overall direction lacks. Hey Violet obviously wanted to differentiate themselves from being labeled as purely a pop outfit, but the original musings of Cherri Bomb are extinct. Instead, the sound lies somewhere between DNCE and Against The Current with a mixture of Halsey thrown in for good measure. While all of these comparisons may sound intriguing – and at times, the sound presented on From the Outside is outstanding – it leads to a disoriented sound that goes back and forth between upbeat, poppy love-tinged sounds to dark, indie pop and alternative sounds. This inconsistency lives not only from track to track, but within tracks themselves as the verses tend to lie more on the darker side of the sound before some of choruses explode like something straight out of a 90’s pop song.
The end result of all of this is a that the album has a lack of true identity and never truly figures out where it belongs. In a sense, that fits the mantra of Hey Violet, as they give off this appearance that their brand is an outcast and they’re ridding themselves of their teenage demons, when in reality they fall into many of the tropes they seem to want to distance themselves from. Even for the non-cohesive direction and cliché lyrical content, From the Outside does contain an at-times irresistibly catchy sound that has the makings for something special. Tracks like “Brand New Movies” and “Guys My Age” have an innately sultry and buttery smooth sound filled with deep, brooding electronics while “My Consequence” and “O.D.D.” see the group slow things down with and take a stab at more mature and ambiguous topics, further backed up by building synths and atmosphere. These moments show that sonically Hey Violet have the capability to create a distinct, signature sound that ebbs and flows, it’s just lacking throughout the entirety of the album.
Rebranding isn’t an easy task and something that usually takes multiple attempts to get right before people take you serious. Hey Violet seem to be on the right path with their rebranding as sonically, From the Outside is a varied experience that has a plethora of songs that will strike the right chord all depending on the listener. Where they fail lies within the lack of a true direction as songs tend to contradict their own message and at times, come off entirely too predictable and overly obnoxious in deliverance. Even still, there’s so many different elements throughout the album that people will undoubtedly keep finding themselves coming back to certain songs, stacking up with modern day music perfectly. The disappointment lies in that sentiment though, as there were undoubtedly expectations for much more, which ultimately were not delivered.