H2O's Poppy Major Label Debut, Go, Has Aged Very Well
I have a theory: The first album you listen to by one of your favorite musicians ends up being one of your favorite releases by said band, regardless of how it was received by critics or fans. Of course, this isn't always the case, but who hasn't ever had to answer to "You like that album, really?"
One such record is H2O's fourth full length album, Go. It's not the band's best work, but it's still a solid album. In honor of H2O headlining the first night of Within These Walls at Nile Theateron Friday, September 21, here's a look at why Go deserves a second listen.
Let me start this by saying I understand why people don't like this record. H2O had just signed to MCA and released a super melodic pop punk album. The band went from a really cool 7 Seconds cover to a so-so Madonna cover. The vocals were different and the songs were much slower and lacked the ferocity of previous H2O records.
2001 was also a great year for music, especially punk. Bouncing Souls, Propagandhi, and Leftover Crack all put out solid releases and let's face it, Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes has aged a bit better than Go.
Honestly, if I was familiar with H2O when Thicker Than Water and F.T.T.W. were released, I'd probably hate Go too. H2O's previous work was excellent and Go is quite the departure from the band's melodic hardcore sound, but in my defense, I was a kid when those albums came out, so I didn't know better.
Out of context, Go is a great record. H2O's change in sound is understandable thanks to pop punk's increasing popularity. New Found Glory and Green Day were getting tons of airplay and Blink-182 had just released Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, so similar bands were popping up left and right. With Go, H2O was marketed to the same crowd. It may not be the band's most riveting album, but it made H2O more accessible to new audiences.
The album is catchy as all hell, even if the song titles can't be abbreviated as F.T.T.W. Songs like "Self Reliable" and "Role Model" were well written, intense alternatives to Blink-182's potty mouthed humor. Yes, the vocals are way different and the songs are slowed down, but there are plenty of classic H2O elements sprinkled in. The heavier riffs and gang vocals on "Ripe or Rotting" and "Songs Remain" make these songs sound like they could have shown up on older albums.