Is Any Out There, the latest album release from Ian Axel and Chad Vacarrio collectively known as A Great Big World, is one of those pot sweetener sort of listens. Just when you’ve settled in and are starting to enjoy their fresh energetic pop sound another musical sugar cube is stuffed into your ears and you are left searching for more, and it is delivered.
The piano based sound floats somewhere between Ben Folds and New York State of Mind Billy Joel on a turntable that is spinning Electric Light Orchestra. From the opening piano chords of “Rockstar” the tone is set. There is no future, there is no past, we were born to live in the present, and it is this sense of unbridled joy and optimism that takes this record from good to great. “Land of Opportunity” would have fit in quite nice on E.L.O.’s Eldorado L.P. back in the day, and the ballad “Say Something,” is already a minor smash with Christina Aguilera adding vocal support.
The record shifts from swinging piano on “I Really Want It” to an anthemic Mumford-ish crescendo with “This is the New Year” to message-pop on “Everyone is Gay,” a song that doesn’t mix the message with any particular political agenda, a sentiment that is particularly refreshing. The voices soar and blend in just the right places, and there are a couple of nifty guitar solos mixed in to break up the piano fest a bit. There is not a bad car on this lot, some just run faster than others, and “I Don’t Want to Love Somebody Else,” a slow beautiful ballad is probably the best of the bunch, and “Shorty Don’t Wait,” could have been on a Ronnie Lane record.
This is an interesting record, and is one that should certainly have legs that should stride them forward and upward as more singles are released.