A Great Big World introduces new sound with ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’

4/5 Pitchforks

A Great Big World propelled into mainstream success after Christina Aguilera recorded “Say Something” with them and gave the duo a national platform by performing the song with them on “The Voice.” The song has since then spent 10 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and has been inescapable in recent months. They went on to perform the single at other televised events, including last year’s American Music Awards and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, reveling in newfound fame.

Unlike the moroseness of “Say Something,” the album, “Is There Anybody Out There?” is fused with earnest, lively songs that heavily rely on piano playing and soft vocals. The 13-track album is a celebration of empowered youth that will resonate with many.

“Rockstar,” which took five years to write, is a proclamation of self-discovery and navigating through the unknown. “I Really Want It” is just as exhilarative with its beat as it is reflective with its lyrics: “If there’s a maker up above, then why is nobody listening? / You show me hate and I’ll show you love / It’s not about your religion.”

Two songs that don’t quite follow the fluidity of the album are “Cheer Up!” and “Everyone Is Gay.” Both songs are intentionally childlike. “Cheer Up!” was written from the perspective of a child while “Everyone Is Gay” was written for a website that aims to improve the lives of LGBTQ children. While the sentiment behind each song is admirable, they sound too much like something that would be in a Disney movie and not in a debut album.

The closest to replicating the heartbreak of “Say Something” is “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else.” The acoustic song is emotional and raw. The lyrics are just as relatable as that of their current single: “Oh, I built a world around you / Oh, you had me in a dream / I lived in every word you said / The stars had aligned; I thought that I found you / And I don’t wanna love somebody else.”

The new beginnings anthem, “This Is the New Year,” which “Glee” covered, is inspiring. “You’ll Be Okay” and “Already Home” are also moving and either one would serve the duo well as their next single. “You’ll Be Okay” is especially mystical with its sincerity and powerful message of hope and perseverance.

“Is Anybody Out There?” released on Jan. 21.

Reach the reporter at jurgiles@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @MrsMathers94