ALBUM REVIEW: Daughtry – Baptized

They're crawling back to us.

They’re crawling back to us.

After a shocking fourth place finish on his season of American Idol, Chris Daughtry took the charts by storm with his band Daughtry, launching hit after hit and selling millions of albums both domestically and abroad. However, the Break The Spell era two years ago began to break their momentum with several underperforming singles at mainstream radio despite a successful tour. So, when an article printed in Rolling Stone recently described the band’s new material as “poppier, cleaner, lighter” and “folksy in parts,” I imagine that there were a few eyebrows raised. I would’ve been curious enough, and so, it was with that curiosity that I dived into their latest offering and fourth studio album, Baptized, a twelve-song affair that paddles into the pop world while repressing all things rock. A new wave has certainly swept over them, one that isn’t guaranteed to carry many of their longtime fans with them.

Opener “Baptized”, the title track, was co-written with Claude Kelly and takes a more prominent country direction with a banjo line straight out of Taylor Swift‘s “You Belong With Me”. The new sound actually works really well, developing into a pop-folk hybrid without the overdone foot-stomper chorus we’ve been hearing as of late. He sings, “Take me down by the water/Pull me in ’til I see the light/Let me drown in your honey/In your love, I want to be baptized.” I could see it as a future single, especially if RCA wants to keep the folk sound alive at radio. Then again, they might also opt for a more pop-sounding song.

Leadoff single “Waiting For Superman” packs that pop punch with an assist from Martin Johnson of Boys Like Girls, who co-wrote just under half the album, with the same being true of “Battleships”, a sort of spacey-sounding song that ranks among my least favorites. However, things pick up quickly again with “I’ll Fight”, one of the few songs that Daughtry fully wrote by himself on here. It’s a more guitar-driven composition that could also work as a single, with an inspirational message about being there for someone even in their darkest hour: “Any place, any time/You gotta know for you, I’ll fight.” Rolling with the punches both lyrically and musically, he does that alright.

Another standout is fifth track “Wild Heart”, which is basically the “September” of Baptized, a slower record about trying to keep the memories of the narrator’s youth alive. He pleads, “Take me back to that fire in your eyes/’Cause I know it ain’t gone too far/Take me back to you, to your wild heart.” Don’t be surprised if this ends up getting a release should the album go to three singles; I say if because declining record sales and airplay may only get it to two. We’ll have to wait and see.

“Long Live Rock And Roll” follows, a solid pop/rock song (which should honestly rock harder, it is “rock and roll”) that name-checks favorites like Billy Joel, Elton John and Journey, though it’s best to leave that kind of novelty lyric to acts like Train. From there, most of the second half of the album drags on with a pack of slick sounding tunes that have no real memorable qualities, save for something like “The World We Knew” which verges into Snow Patrol territory, or “Broken Arrows”, a stripped down ballad that sounds like it was pulled out of the abandoned 90′s lite rock bin. At least a track like “Traitor” tries to go hard with an emphasis on guitars and a more distorted vocal, but even that doesn’t compare to the band’s earlier material. Closer “18 Years” is also unremarkable, but does pick up the pace before coming to an end.

This is ultimately another polarizing album this holiday season and the label politics of it all don’t help the matter. It’s obviously a very commercial album with a ton of potential mainstream singles on it, but at what cost is it to those Daughtry fans who love the rockier side of the band? There are edgier numbers on here, but nothing to fully satisfy the Alternative fan. Then again, it’s not as though the group could score any airplay on that format or the Active Rock airwaves even if they tried – their first album marked the peak of that. (You do always have their older catalogue to sort through.) However, if you’re one of their followers and enjoy the poppy nature of their music, like on “Superman”, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this record. Not only does the band sound energized, but they have a lot of solid hooks which should do well in concert. In fact, I’ll be seeing them live when they play a promotional radio gig here in about a month’s time. They may be purified in pure pop on this release, but don’t count them out in this race; “it’s not over” for Daughtry on the charts… yet.

Listen to Baptized on VH1 First Listen. / Pre-order Baptized on iTunes.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “ALBUM REVIEW: Daughtry – Baptized

  1. i was very dissapointed, i loved break the spell and this seems like a different band at most points throughout the album

  2. Sam

    An utter disappointment. Daughtry has always brought rock music with an amazing, tender voice – something quite unique you wouldn’t find so perfect in other bands. Now, it’s just one big commercialized pop album that takes almost every pop stereotype with it: an artist not writing his own songs, music being made by a computer and not the hands of a skilled guitar player or drummer and, rather than trying to be original, copies all the ‘good’ stuff from other popular artists and puts them into one album. I pre-ordered the deluxe edition because I thought it’d be another Daughtry album. For me, the only part that is still daughtry is the bandname and his voice, things that just aren’t enough to compensate for the uncreative electropop sounds and songs being devoid of any inventive part on Daughtry’s side. If Daughtry goes on like this, they’ll get exactly what this album shows they want to get: fame, fortune and airtime. But the original music and feeling will be lost. The next album will show us what Daughtry will do: sell out for fame, or stick to great music they created. I for one am sad to see a great artist take this path, but if that’s it then I won’t need to have anymore new daughtry in my playlists again.

    • TSmith

      I agree with you 100%…..although, I’m not really sure Daughtry will get much fame and airtime from this album. I mean, I’ve yet to hear his new single played on a local station I listen to…And they’ve traditionally played a lot of Daughtry music….

      I can deal with a different sound and welcome it in moderation…Songs like Waiting For Superman and Long Live Rock N Roll would be perfectly fine if they had been mixed in with some more traditional Daughtry offerings…

      But did they really need to make the whole album a computer generated, bubble-gum pop offering? If I want to hear Train or Maroon 5, I’ll listen to them. I don’t need Daughtry trying to sound like them….I always liked Daughtry because he was a bit different than those type of bands.

      I think this will end up being a mistake and disappoint many current Daughtry fans that enjoyed his “Rock” material. This whole album sounds like something that could be heard in a Dentist’s office.

      I also pre-ordered this….But now I’m wishing I hadn’t. And I can say for certain that I will not be pre-ordering the next album after this offering…..if there is one.

  3. Wasn’t blown away on first listen – especially after I had very high hopes following the singles Waiting For Superman and Long Live Rock and Roll. Being a fan of Daughtry from the beginning, for me, this album is missing that grittier heavy feel that the first 3 albums had. I don’t want to have a 12 track metal album from Daughtry, as they have the talent to produce some fantastic slower ballads, and Chris has a fantastic voice for them. Although, Baptized is a little too slow, and neglects the bands earlier rockier products. I’ve listened to the online stream a few times now, and it is growing on me, but doesn’t pack the punch that Break The Spell, Leave This Town and Daughtry had. Although I am looking forward to getting my copy in the mail tomorrow morning still! My recommendation for the fans of the heavier Daughtry is to not right this album off – put this on shuffle and intersperse it with the earlier offerings from the band and it will mix in well.

    Not a bad album, but far from the best from Daughtry – hopefully on their next studio album they will rediscover their rock roots. But until then, here’s hoping for a UK headline tour in 2014! Have seen them twice as support for Nickelback, but would love to see them on the stage for a headline show of their own!

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  4. Samantha

    I absolutely love each song on the new album. I’ve been a Daughtry fan since day one and they have never disappointed and raised the bar on this new album in my opinion! FOREVER a Daughtry fan!

  5. Angie Diruscio

    I have loved Chris since Idol!! I think the Album is great!! He decided to go towards a differend sound this time, but who cares!! When you have a voice like that its not about the guitars and whatever they used to make the music! Its about that amazing voice!! Why dont people focus on that?? So disappointed how fans can just turn on a group they claim to love!

  6. Shari

    I wish I’d read this review before I bought the CD. Didn’t know they were switching to the dance/pop genre. Disappointed, but maybe I’ll like it more with further listening.

  7. Pingback: Traitor? Hater? Or Bold New Sound? Chris Daughtry’s ‘Baptized’ | Russ Colchamiro

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