Plain White T’s albums set stage for upcoming concert

By Peter Zemeske

Pop punk band Plain White T’s is coming to DeKalb to tour their latest album, “Parallel Universe,” 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St.

The Plain White T’s formed in Lombard in 1999, starting off by playing local shows to a small but devoted fanbase. The band had its biggest commercial success with the 2007 single “Hey There Delilah,” which came in at No. 3 on the Billboard charts that year, according to Billboard. In anticipation of the band’s appearance, here’s how their previous albums stack up.

1. “All That We Needed”

“All That We Needed” is technically the third album from the Plain White T’s, but it is the first album sold commercially throughout the U.S. The album was released in 2005 from Fearless Records, and it has a classic mid-2000’s pop punk sound to it, not far from the likes of Fall Out Boy or Yellowcard. The album has the original version of “Hey There Delilah,” but the single didn’t reach its peak on Billboard charts until the re-release on the album “Every Second Counts.” “All That We Needed” is a great release from the band and still sounds good today.

2.“Every Second Counts”

“Every Second Counts” is the follow-up to “All That We Needed” and was released in 2006. The album is considerably more pop-sounding than the band’s previous album but still has pop punk sensibilities. The song structure also seems to vary more between each song compared to “All That We Needed.” “Making A Memory” features a harpsichord intro, an instrument not heard from the Plain White T’s before this point. “Write You a Song” is the band’s second mostly acoustic song besides “Hey There Delilah.” This release shows the Plain White T’s is no one trick pony.

3. “Stop

“Stop” is the second album from Plain White T’s and came out in 2002, but was re-released in 2007. The album has a raw, unpolished quality and sounds very endearing. It definitely puts the punk in pop punk. The power chords and edgy lyrics of “Please Don’t Do This” makes it sound straight off a Blink-182 B-side. The distorted guitars and thumping bass make for an enjoyable listen.

4. “Big Bad World”

“Big Bad World” is the band’s fifth album and attempt to avoid the dreaded “one hit wonder status” with “Hey There Delilah.” The album featured the hit single “1,2,3,4,” which went gold and platinum, according to RIAA. The album mostly keeps their pop punk sound without trying to cash in on the success of “Hey There Delilah,” and sounding more refined at the same time. The production value increased from “Every Second Counts” significantly.

5. “Wonders of the Younger”

“Wonders of the Younger” (2010) shifts gears to a softer, more pop-based alternative rock. The album is “all about looking back on the good old days — when life was simple,” according to frontman Tom Higgenson in a 2010 Alternative Press interview. The first single released was the incredibly catchy hit, “Rhythm of Love.” The album experiments with different instruments, such as strings on “Last Breath” and synths on “Map of the World, and has more prominently placed acoustic guitars.

“American Nights” is the seventh album and takes another sonic departure from the sound of “Wonders of the Younger.” The album takes the Plain White T’s in a more radio friendly and tries to cash in on multiple genres, such as folk rock and even reggae. The Vampire Weekend-sounding “Heavy Rotation” features jangly, clean electric guitars and an easy-to-digest chorus and verse structure. The folk-sounding “Dance Off Time” is reminiscent of Of Monsters and Men, featuring a train-like rhythm and kick drums galore. “American Nights” sounds the furthest from their original pop punk roar, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.