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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2014 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 1, 2019 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 6, 2018 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 1, 2016 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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The sophomore set from New York-based American Authors doesn't stray too far from their debut Oh, What a Life, but they make up for the lack of freshness with scope. On What We Live For, the quartet refine their upbeat, foot-stomping brand of pastoral Mumford rock and set it on course for the tier occupied by pop/rock chart-toppers like OneRepublic and Imagine Dragons. Production and songwriting have also been polished, courtesy of Dirty Canvas label-head duo Aaron Accetta and Shep Goodman, resulting in a collection of songs that could all be potential singles. In their bid for arena rock glory, American Authors come close to delivering the best OneRepublic album that tourmate Ryan Tedder never released. The biggest tunes burst down the barn doors as the band -- vocalist/guitarist Zac Barnett, guitarist/banjo player James Adam Shelley, drummer Matt Sanchez, and bassist Dave Rublin -- deliver in earnest unison. "This Is What We Live For" sets the tone with the first of many singalong choruses, quite similar to Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance" (incidentally, the track was co-written by Captain Cuts, the trio behind that hit). "Right Here Right Now" -- another Captain Cuts track -- and "Pocket Full of Gold" are rousing, hand-clapping hoedowns that build on American Authors' biggest single, "Best Day of My Life." That folk-pop spirit reaches an apex on "Nothing Better," which is essentially the '90s one-hit wonder "Cotton-Eyed Joe" updated for 2016. The major OneRepublic moments are the standouts: "Counting Stars" lives on in "I'm Born to Run," while the uplifting "Pride" infuses joy and positivity like "Feel Again" or "I Lived." A few breaks are allowed to let you catch your breath, like on the X Ambassadors slow burn of "Replaced" and the heartfelt "Mess with Your Heart," which features guitar work from Scott Harris (Shawn Mendes, Daya) and Bryan Fryzel (Misterwives). Whether inspiring singalongs or lighters-up reverie, American Authors have crafted an easy listen of enjoyable, feel-good anthems custom-made for the main stage. On the penultimate track, "Superman," they even include a killer guitar solo and an Arcade Fire-sized chorus of "I feel like Superman/I'm making waves/In my heart again." The sentiment flows throughout What We Live For, a solid pick for fans of passionate, radio-ready, summertime spirit. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 1, 2019 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2014 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 27, 2018 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Dance - Released January 1, 2014 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Dance - Released July 20, 2018 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2014 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Booklet
It's a loaded name that could suggest a number of pop transgressions, from singsongy Warped tour debauchery or erudite Vampire Weekend frivolity to straight-up Mumford & Sons-inspired banality, but Brooklyn's American Authors manage to find the safe spaces in between, taking the most retail-friendly parts of each of those examples and spinning them into something that sounds a little bit like somebody put Fun. and the Lumineers in a mixing bowl and hit them with an immersion blender. The band's major-label debut, Oh, What a Life, is a big, unapologetically upbeat collection of indie pop anthems with similarly unrepentant commercial ambitions that comes off a little like a folksy One Direction. These are songs that refuse to remain incarcerated behind neon earphone buds. Key cuts like the uplifting opener "Believer," the heartfelt "Luck," and the spirited lead single "Best Day of My Life" were made to fly freely so that they may attach themselves to summer movie trailers, inspirational television commercials, and American Idol loser/winner/special-needs contestant montages. They are so on the nose that the seasoned, big summer pop anthem fan never has time to react with anything other than a begrudging respect for their complete lack of nuance. Whether they're mining the handclap-happy "Hey Ho" antics of the aforementioned Lumineers ("Luck"), rounding off the already polished edges of pop-punk with a little banjo ("Heart of Stone"), or simply repurposing big-moment group vocal-led Arcade Fire-isms (everywhere), they're doing it on their own, very shrewd terms, and without the cruel restrictions of subtlety. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 13, 2017 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 16, 2016 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Dance - Released August 28, 2015 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Dance - Released July 15, 2014 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Film Soundtracks - Released April 7, 2017 | Walt Disney Records

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