Irish rockers The Script came into the American music scene with their melancholy rock song "The Man Who Can't Be Moved." The bittersweet song told the story of a man who was willing to do anything, even wait forever, to be with the woman he loved. It is the essence of The Script's self-titled debut album. The band faced great losses while recording their debut album. Guitar player Mark Sheenan's mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away less than a year later. Lead singer Danny O'Donoghue's father died of a heart attack four months afterwards. The band credits the high levels of emotional crisis for the outpour of melancholy lyrics and music on the debut album. For all the beauty in the album, it plays like a very sad diary. You feel bad for what the band has been through and want them to get through their grieving process.
The band just released their second album Science and Faith. While the voicing and arrangements are similar, the lyrics and melodies are much more hopeful. The Script is still performing songs about loss and love. They just aren't as raw. The difference is an emotional maturity that should resonate better with the greater music-buying public.
With songs like "Exit Wounds," the members of the band are still trying to find a great love. Danny O'Donoghue sings in the chorus "I don't know how much more love this heart can lose." This isn't a man crying over the loss of a girlfriend; he is crying out for someone to hold onto. This could be family, friends, or a new girl. The song uses a bullet metaphor in a rather unexpected way, referring to the inability to find out when the love they lost even entered their life. They only know when the love left them. It's a sad song, but it isn't a pessimistic one.
Another common thread off of the first album is the band's relationship with religion. The first album constantly questioned the existence of a God in the face of the seemingly unending tragedy in their lives. The second album is, again, more hopeful. This isn't a group who has given up on faith; they have rediscovered it. For as sad and lonely as the songs can get, there is a hope that the situation will only improve.
The songs are mostly constructed with major chords, simplifying some of the more challenging arrangements of their debut album. However, this is not to say they have regressed. The simplicity of this rock/pop album is refreshing. The band makes great use of layered repetition. In "Bullet from a Gun," there is a guitar lick that forms the foundation of the song. This is stacked with a specific keyboard progression, which is stacked with a repeated chorus, which is stacked with a repetitive spoken-word bridge, which is stacked with a two word outro. The individual elements are simpler than the debut album, but are arranged in a way that feels new and complex.
If you enjoyed the first album, there is much to like in Science & Faith. The band hasn't completely shifted focus. They are just demonstrating a newfound musical maturity that takes the same open wounds and spins them to a beneficial, almost cathartic, direction. If The Script keep improving like this with each album, they will be a band to watch out for in the future.