The sun practically glistens off of Florida-based power-pop quartet We the Kings. These young men have been living in a very special kind of dreamland since their self-titled debut in 2007. It’s a world where girls are beautiful princesses on unbreakable pedestals, and there’s no question three chords can’t solve — a place where bubblegum pop can straddle edgier fare with a straight-face, simply because a song melts into “dangerous” reverb dissonance as it fades out.
Lead singer Travis Clark, guitarist Hunter Thomsen, bassist Drew Thomsen, and drummer Danny Duncan comprise a tight, perfectly manufactured piece of pop rebellion. That’s surely what’s attracted Disney to their doorstep, offering up their own Demi Lovato for the hit single “We’ll Be a Dream,” off the Kings’ sophomore effort, Smile Kid. It also makes perfect sense that the Kings would headline Hot Topic’s 2010 Take Action tour, as well as joining this summer’s Warped Tour.
Their music is pitch-perfect, literally, for kids and pogo-dancing teens. Others might find the painfully earnest lyrics the perfect fodder for a drinking game. “Check Yes Juliet” urges the girl of his dreams to, “Lace up your shoes/ah oh ah ooh/Here’s how we do/Run, baby, run.” Particularly egregious is the aforementioned Lovato collaboration, which goes for wistful contemplation but sounds completely out of place with the happy, bopping beat and youthful voices: “Do you remember the nights we made our way dreaming/Hoping of being someone big/We were so young then/We were too crazy in love.”
But occasionally, genuine moments of rebellion seem to hint that the Kings won’t always be content being the pseudo-bad boys of the Magic Kingdom. Only a couple songs lean toward their subversive side, but the moments are welcome relief. “Promise the Stars” has several inane lines, like, “There are no two hearts closer than ours,” but the boys also vow, “You are my only lover,” tucking a sneaky grown-up image (albeit one of monogamy) in betwixt the bright-eyed declarations of undying devotion.