This is the second time in a week we’ve reviewed an album attached to an actor whose fame is slightly hard to shake off. But where Game of Thrones actor Raleigh Ritchie seemed to shine with personality, Gossip Girl‘s Penn Badgley very much feels like a star with a guitar alongside his band MOTHXR.
That’s not to say that Centerfold is a bad album, it’s just, well, monotonous. There are zippy beats and synths on openers Impossible and Stranger, but Badgley’s affected drawl seems rather forced with his faux-Ian Curtis tone on the title track. It’s almost as if you want to rouse the band from their hipster lethargy, not to mention raise their BPM and our pulse at the same time.
Ultimately, there’s just very little substance to this album. The throwback vibe is tremendous on Touch and Easy, and a shining example of what this band can do when they’re really good. But there are just too many gimmicks, too many lifted inspirations (that shoehorned sax in Victim, dear oh dear), and not enough of their own soul and originality poured into it. Oddly appropriate they picked this title for their debut – like that eponymous spread, it’s all very glossy and nice to look at, but you’ll probably forget about it pretty quickly. Might as well go back to Leighton Meester instead.