It is not uncommon to hear of a band finding popularity via Youtube, signing with a major label and going on to gain millions of fans. However contrary to this formula, Boyce Avenue have gained over two BILLION views for their YouTube covers and original content without the aid of a major label, earning themselves the official Guiness World Record title of Biggest Independent Band in the World. The band is comprised of three brothers from Sarasota, Florida; Alejandro, Fabian and Daniel Manzano released their first album in 2009, and aside from its’ singles, their newest release Road Less Traveled is their first showcase of original music since 2010s All We Have Left.
Speaking of their singles, the album kicks off with the summer ready, feel-good pop anthem Be Somebody, triumphant and uplifting as Alejandro reminds us that “we’ve all got a dream”. Songs like Pick Yourself Back Up Again and Cinderella are riddled with similar themes of positivity and self-fulfilment, though the slightly mundane, static drum patterns on both tracks lessen their impact. With its acapella upstrokes of acoustic guitar, Ride The Wave is a definite standout track, impressively reminiscent of classic Jason Mraz song I’m Yours, and complete with buoyant choral harmonies.
Towards the back end of the album you find the token break-up ballads, Anchor and Given Up – except the former is not a ballad at all. Ironically, Boyce Avenue’s most lyrically heart-wrenching song is also their most instrumentally decorated, exploding into thunderous, danceable pop upon reaching its earworm chorus. Road Less Traveled is only let down when they slip across the thin line between good pop and cringe-worthy cheese. Your Biggest Fan is one of their more heavily produced songs, delivering theatrical, over-layered vocals delivered towards the end in a call-and-response style that wouldn’t be out of place on X-Factor. Imperfect Me also suffers somewhat, with the refined piano melody being drowned out by 90s boy-bandesque vocal groans.
But as the album closes with the simplistic, poetic tones of Lovely Mess, none of the albums discrepancies matter. Wholesome and soulful, the song ties together all the themes of love, loss and uncertainty with the optimistic, if bittersweet “Try your best to enjoy this lovely mess”. Road Less Traveled certainly takes you on a journey; it toes the borders of R&B, pop – even indie-rock, ultimately making a resounding impression.