Up-and-coming Dylan Gardner debuts first album


Courtesy of GoMoxie

Lisa Nhan, Managing Editor

Eighteen-year-old Dylan Gardner made his album debut with Adventures in Real Time, released by Warner Bros. Records. Before making the album, Gardner drew influence from his idols such as The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Harry Shannon in order to create his blissful and upbeat sound that plays off the feeling of youth. This self-described “music nerd” wrote the album to reflect, “this big vision of how great life can be,” according to his website.

The opening track, Let’s Get Started, is the epitome of what an opening track on a pop album should sound like. It hooks you, just like an introduction should. During the chorus, “You are my love, oh, come on, let’s get started, all your problems disregard them,” Gardner sings to the radio-tailored melody. It is the song you play when you have had a bad day to feel better. It is the song you play before a first date to feel the nerves build up in your stomach. It is the song that epitomizes the feel of this album and Gardner’s sound. It is no wonder it has already been played three million times on Spotify.

Heroes Tonight keeps with Gardner’s upbeat mood. It is like the cooler, older sister of Let’s Get Started. This track would be perfect background for a montage in a teen movie. It radiates youth with each note. It is a great transition from the first track.

The next track on the album, I’m Nothing Without You, is a slight letdown from the first two tracks. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two, but this one does not seem like anything special. It is still upbeat, but it is just another upbeat love song with decent lyrics. It is not as unique as the previous two tracks to make it all that different from the hundreds of other upbeat love songs. The song does not physically pain me to listen to, but it’s hard for me to understand why this is one of Gardner’s most popular songs on the album.

The song Too Afraid To Love is where you can see Dylan’s influence from The Beach Boys. It sounds like the type of song the cool girl next door plays in her car with the windows rolled down. It is among my favorites on the album. It has got a Saint Motel vibe to it, with an incredibly catchy chorus. It was the track that was stuck in my head days after listening to the album for the first time.

I Think I’m Falling For Something is the next track on the album and the second most popular of Gardner’s. While I can see why people would gravitate towards this piano driven upbeat song, as the lyrics are relatable, I personally feel that there are other songs that showcase Gardner’s talent better.

My least favorite song on the album has to be The Actor. Gardner’s voice loses nearly its entire luster and becomes almost completely different. It is whiny and flat, but as the song progresses into the chorus, it does improve. Gardner’s repetitive lyric structure worked on his fast pace songs, but on a slower more acoustic one like this track, it makes it dull. I am the first person to admit that I listen to a disgusting amount of folk music, so it is not that I do not like slower acoustic songs. It’s that this is not Gardner’s strong suit. It is the song that you skip on the album to move on to the others.

Fortunately, in the next track, Sing For the Stars, Dylan’s vocals return to normal. Unfortunately, the lyrics are so cheesy that I willingly skip this track anytime it comes on. “Sing for the stars, sing for the brightest stars, baby you know, one day they will be ours,” Gardner sings. It does not sound bad, but once I noticed the lyrics, I just could not listen to it anymore.

The Feeling of Love is the next track, and the title perfectly describes how I feel about the opening of the song. It is showing the more electric side of Gardner’s work, and this to me is where his vocals really shine. However, this song can quickly get repetitive, but it is definitely an improvement from the last two tracks.

By far my favorite song on this album is With A Kiss. I had this song on repeat for a while. This is the song that is playing in the background as the lead male in a movie runs to win back the love of his life. The vocals in this song are the strongest on the album. It has this electric undertone and strong beat that gives it a bit more edge than his other songs. Gardner is able to give it his personal touch that makes it hard not to dance along to.

The last track, Invincible, was the perfect choice for ending the soundtrack. Listening to it reminds me of the song they play at the end of a movie during the credits. Again the lyrics are a little cheesy, but they suit the song.

Overall, Gardner’s debut album is not something he should be ashamed of, but nor is it something that will be winning Grammys anytime soon. The few catchy songs on the album, such as With a Kiss or Let’s Get Started show his potential and makes me excited for his future endeavors. I have shamelessly blasted those songs while driving. However, lyrical, Gardner lacks depth. Nearly all of his songs contain a main line that is repeated many times, although adding to the catchiness and upbeat mood, fail to show anything all that impressive. The fact is that you can tell that a teenage boy wrote these lyrics. They lack depth and emotion.

“Cause I’m nothing without you, there’s something about you, and I’m lost without you,” Gardner sings in the track I’m Nothing Without You.

The reality is that it shows no originality of thought. As a teenage girl, trust me that the majority teenage boys have written something like that as the caption for a photo on Instagram with his girlfriend. Gardner stands out with his strong vocals and infectiously joyous beats, but he has his faults. In Let’s Get Started, some of the lyrics are down right adorable like, “I’ll be Sunday, you’ll be Monday,” but that does not make up for some of the other songs. His age shows when you look at the lyrics.

However, if beyond this album, he truly wants to stand apart from the thousands of artists creating each year, he’s going to have to improve his writing skills. He described himself as prolific in an interview with The Huffington Post. According to the website, before he recorded the album, Gardner handed over 100 songs to his producers. While it is astonishing that someone of his age could write that much while most teens do not even finish their homework, writing a lot of songs is not the same as writing quality songs.

If Gardner wants to be like his idols from The Beach Boys, he’s on the right track with his music. This is a great debut for the world as to what Gardner has to offer and for a starting point with his whole music career ahead of him.