CD Review: The Reason “Fools”

The Reason is a modern rock band that calls Hamilton, Ontario home. Back in August they released “Fools,” their third album. Trying to make the third one the charm, the band recruited producer Steven Haigler (Pixies, Brand New, Quicksand) to assist with the effort. Recorded at North Carolina’s Echo Mountain Recording Studio, “Fools” shows the band maturing, settling into a sound that they can truly call their own.

The Reason is Adam White (vocals, guitar), James Nelan (keyboards, vocals, guitar), Jeremy Widerman (guitar, vocals), Ronson, (bass) and Steve Kiely (drums, percussion). Drawn together in early 2003 by their love of music and the impetus to forge their own musical path, the powerhouse quintet first caught the attention of audiences and music critics across Canada with the release of their debut album “Ravenna” in 2004. Coming off the release of Ravenna, the band focused on the goal of crafting memorable songs with hooky guitar lines. Their 2007 sophomore album, “Things Couldn’t Be Better,” added greater dimension to their sound and “Fools” aims to combine the best elements of each of its predecessors.

Generally, the results are pretty good. “Fools” has a very modern sound that would fit comfortably on radio these days. The album gets off to a puttering start with “Come and Go,” which jogs around the track, but never takes off. Much more satisfying is the radio-friendly pace of “Where Do We Go From Here,” which could almost be mistaken for Panic! At The Disco. Equally energetic is the closing track and first single, “The Longest Highway Home.” The driving verses and cool chord changes in the chorus make for a winning combination.

My favorite in the bunch, however, is “The Ending of Us All,” which features a smart lyric, innovative guitar effects and the catchiest chorus out of all eleven tunes here – everything comes together perfectly on this song. The near folk-y feel in the chorus of “I’ll Be Around” makes this another tune worth repeating. Some good intentioned experiments are conducted on “Fools,” but ultimately they come up short. “Dogs” provides a needed break from the heavy riffs with acoustic guitar front and center, but unfortunately it is an impotent song. Similarly, “Work With Me” also veers from the band’s formula, sounding like it would be more fitting on a ’70s movie soundtrack. Some songs can agonizingly close to being great, such as “Run” and “Cry Like The Rain,” but in the end they’re missing that magic something.

The Reason has come a long way and “Fools” is a noble next step, but short of a great leap forward. The band has found their niche and their chemistry is strong. If they continue to devote themselves to writing stronger hooks, The Reason will break out. The Reason is a logical choice for fans of Kings of Leon or Fall Out Boy.

iPOD-worthy tracks: 2, 5, 6, 9, 11

The Reason on MySpace. Official site.

Check out their video for “The Longest Highway Home”: