“Nation of Two” disappoints and fails to grab listeners

Courtesy Amazon

Courtesy Amazon

By Peter Zemeske

“Nation of Two” is the second studio album from 30-year-old Australian singer/songwriter Vance Joy. Joy’s brand of pop-folk has captured the hearts of casual listeners and dedicated fans alike. His smooth melodies and silky voice landed him an opening act for megastar Taylor Swift for her “1989” world tour. His album doesn’t take a huge departure from the sound of his debut, which might turn off some listeners while intriguing others.

“’Nation of Two’ describes a perfectly self-contained couple; their world beginning and ending at the bed they share, the car they ride in or any other place they’re together,” answered Joy when asked to describe the album.

The album is decent to put on for background noise in a hipster coffee joint, but isn’t something that grabs your attention in any of the 13 songs on the track list. Most of the songs are rather similar without any major highlights to grab the interest of its listeners, creating minimal repeat listens.

“Call If You Need Me” starts off the album and is a decent listen, but has little movement or progression. “Lay It On Me” is the lead single from the album and is very similar lyric-wise to the preceding song. His first album, “Dream Your Life Away” had some highlights at the very least. When I first heard “Mess Is Mine,” it was stuck in my head for days.

The instrumentation stays painfully consistent to acoustic pluckings, horns and piano chords. The lyricism isn’t terribly creative either; the repetitive choruses make the songs predictable and bland. The lyrics don’t extend past the usual love song dictionary, which makes it feel like you’ve heard them already, even if you haven’t.

While “Nation of Two” isn’t a horrible album, it certainly isn’t something I’d put on again. Joy shows talent and promise, but needs to channel more creativity and variety into his songs. If he filled out the instrumentation, varied the lyrical content and changed the overall feel of the songs, we’d have a much better album on our hands.