Bookmarks by Five For Fighting

Bookmarks by Five For Fighting

 

John Ondrasik has garnered decent success over the past decade with his blend of piano-based pop/rock and falsetto vocals. Using his knack for catchy tunes and structured songwriting, he’s put together a respectable mosaic of universal themes such as love, war, hatred, friendship, joy, and suffering. Unlike his contemporaries who’ve branched out into more eclectic domains in the interest of experimentation, the L.A.-based singer prefers to stay in familiar territory: Bookmarks, his sixth studio album, is full of the three-to-four minute ballads that characterized his releases in the mid-2000s.

 

TRACKLIST:
#1. Stand Up 2:51
#2. What If 3:27
#3. Heaven Knows 3:30
#4. Down 3:29
#5. I Don’t Want Your Love 3:34
#6. Road To You 2:51
#7. She’s My Girl 3:26
#8. Symphony Lane 3:39
#9. You’ll Never Change 3:13
#10. Your Man 3:28
#11. The Day I Died 4:16
#12. Rebel 3:09

 

PERSONNEL:
Vladimir John Ondrasik III: Vocals, Piano, Guitar, Harmonica

 

PRODUCER:
Gregg Wattenberg

 

DATE OF RELEASE:
17th September, 2013

 

SINGLES:
What If

 

Barring the updated sound design and some production tricks here and there, there’s very little that separates this record from America Town or Two Lights. Sure, the handclaps on opener Stand Up result in a more propulsive beat, and there’s the nagging feeling that the success of Maroon 5 has been taken a little too seriously by Wattenberg, but the best tracks here are like a piece of time-frozen pop from the decade gone by.

 

There’s a little more redundancy here than one might be used to, both in terms of writing and composition, though Symphony Lane is a neat little Sting-y chamber-pop break from the steady dose of bright, tirelessly uplifting piano rock that Ondrasik has mastered over the years. And except for a few political metaphors sprinkled throughout (“It’s Sunday in the Six-Day War / Smile darling, don’t be sad”, croons Ondrasik in Heaven Knows), Bookmarks is very much a personal, relationship-oriented album; perhaps the most introspective of his 17-year career.

 

That shouldn’t discourage you from giving this one a listen, as one in every three tracks (on average) jumps out at you and becomes memorable. What If brings a relentless pace and unusually assertive bassline that department stores across the globe will not hesitate to feed you as you go about your holiday shopping. She’s My Girl is a little too cloying at first with all the undue praise that’s heaped on this unknown female, but it soon becomes apparent that he’s talking about his daughter, and the father-daughter sentiment is so sincere that you’re apt to even forgive the “ice-cream/mean/scream” rhyming scheme in the chorus.

 

Other noteworthy cuts include You’ll Never Change, a song about accepting boundaries in long-term relationships that is also a showcase for Ondrasik’s precision with complex time signatures on the piano, and Your Man, an uptempo ballad that pushes back against the tremendous pressure that men face in the hectic, social-media driven culture of today. Both tracks contribute to a rather strong back half, and could be future singles.

 

 

 

 

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