Rixton Shows Talent, But Lacks Originality


Image source: Rixtonband.com

Scooter Braun, the successful manager of Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepson, has now brought us Rixton, a British boy band whose inaugural album Let the Road is full of both promise and frustration for the listener.

The album opens with the eponymous song, which has a very surprising sound given the rest of the album. Filled with a capella from the group’s four members and an orchestra, this track is definitely an outlier. This genuine, organic-sounding track is a welcome departure from the artificial atmosphere of most contemporary music.

Sadly, the generic quality of the rest of the album, and of today’s music industry as a whole, takes over within the next few tracks. The conformity is clear in songs such as Wait on Me, a catchy, yet sad mirage which sounds like it was written for Maroon 5; Appreciated, which echoes the sounds of Train and other similarly catchy pop bands; and Beautiful Excuses, which sounds, again, like yet another generic pop band.

Rixton is cut from a different cloth than most of the other pop bands such as One Direction. They can actually play their instruments and seem to have actual substance behind the music.

Perhaps the most alarming of all these songs, however, is the big hit off of this album, Me and My Broken Heart, which peaked at #14 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2014. Upon listening to the song, one cannot help but be struck by the almost eerie resemblance to Rob Thomas’ 2005 hit single Lonely No More. Indeed, it does sample the beat from that song, and Rob Thomas is credited as a songwriter on the track.

The lead vocalist of Rixton, Jake Roche, does not deny or hide this resemblance. As a matter of fact, he embraces it. He is quoted in an article on Billboard.com saying of Thomas “We’ve been a huge fan of his, so we took a lot of inspiration from him and wanted to give him a tip of the hat,”

“Sampling,” which some might call musical plagiarism, has always been a controversial subject in the music industry. It has been in the spotlight recently, because of the high profile lawsuit that Marvin Gaye’s family filed against the songwriters of Blurred Lines, alleging that it infringes on the copyright of the song Got to Give it Up by Gaye. The judge ruled in favor of Gaye’s family in the tune of $7.4 million dollars, but the defendants have appealed the claim and are currently waiting for a definitive decision.

Resemblance in music is also, unfortunately, a little bit inevitable. There are only so many ways you can arrange musical notes so they can appeal to the human mind. Resemblances are ok. What isn’t ok, however, is blatant plagiarism, such as the Blurred Lines case, which sounds a little bit too much like the song its songwriters claim not to infringe on.

Rixton, while being inspired by Rob Thomas, doesn’t commit the worst of sins by sampling his beat. They sound like completely different songs, after all. It might signal a little bit of a lack of originality, but it does not mean they infringed or plagiarized Rob Thomas, especially since they gave him credit.

The rest of the album really isn’t very noteworthy. No songs really stand out; they all just sort of melt together, not because of their similar sound, but because of their similarity with other established pop artists, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They are very catchy, and I did, admittingly, find myself humming along a couple times over the course of the album.

Rixton is cut from a different cloth than most of the other pop bands  such as One Direction. They can actually play their instruments and seem to have actual substance behind the music.

Their lack of a definitive sound might hurt them in the long run,  but if they settle on one, they have the potential to be one of the more successful bands in the world.

Overall, I would give this debut album a B-.

You can buy the album now on iTunes for $9.99 at this link.