The presence of The Ready Set in alternative music has always been an anomaly. Jordan Witzigreuter’s MySpace-dwelling electro-pop project has always drifted far away from typical alternative fare, even the more abscinding branches of the Warped Tour scene that he’s been grouped with. Even with the likes of Never Shout Never and Breathe Carolina on either side, he’s always stuck out – more synthetic than the former, but not as aware of its place in the scene as the latter. It’s all change on fourth album I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love though, seeing Witzigreuter transitioning from his awkward scene-kid phase into a properly slick pop star.
At lot of the material on this album is very reminiscent of the direction Justin Bieber took on last year’s Purpose, moving away from obnoxious ear-candy and into something a lot more equable and refined. It’s more mature than anything Witzigreuter has done before, taking cues from all over contemporary pop’s landscape for an album that lacks cohesion, but has some really solid songs tucked away inside. Disappearing Act and Run With Me are both reminiscent of The 1975, the former in its rubbery guitar licks and washed-out synths, and the latter in its staccato burst of saxophone that really blends in well. Elsewhere, Good Enough and Swim both play to a tropical house template with their chilled atmospherics and generally understated yet effective vibes, and First is a lot more downplayed than most of the album, with its light, skittering beats dancing over muted drums to great effect.
When it hits its stride, I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love frequently produces moments of lush brilliance, but they really do seem like brief moments. That’s because this is an album that incredibly unevenly constructed, with very little flow – if any – and a tendency to try some bizarre experiments in terms of instrumentation. Witzigreuter is clearly liberal in his inclusion of sounds from across the pop map, and occasionally it feels as though he’d be better off being a bit pickier in what he chooses to work with. No Love feels clumsy and lumpen in its attempt at a synth / reggae fusion (plus the cameo from Jule Vera’s Ansley Newman is not needed whatsoever), while Concrete lacks the chill and effortless cool of other tracks with its blocky electronics and over-rigidity. The worst offender though, is See You, which dispenses with the spry bubbliness of the rest of the album in favour of pensive naval-gazing in what feels like a perfunctory end-of-album ballad than anything else.
To be fair though, there aren’t that many outright bad tracks – most of the weaker offerings are so by being forgettable, or just not as all-encompassing as some of the others. That’s not saying that I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love is an amazing album waiting to happen though, because it’s not. A few unfortunate slip-ups and an extreme lack of any form prevent this from truly being the album that makes The Ready Set a household name. But regardless, there are some real gems tucked away, constructed and presented in a surprisingly mature and level-headed way. It’s not a great album by any means, but if it’s a sign of things to come, that might just come sooner rather than later.
For fans of: Owl City, Kygo, Jack Ü
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love’ by The Ready Set is released on 8th April on Hopeless Records.