It’s been eight years since we’ve heard anything from the Drake and Josh star–needless to say, he’s no longer the same band shirt-sporting, adolescent heart-throb with a bad bowl hair cut we left behind. Ready Steady Go! perhaps serves as Bell’s cry of, “Guys, I’m still here!” and though it’s no lyrical masterpiece, it’s definitely an improvement from anything we’ve heard from him in the past.
We hear traces of Michael Bublé, Justin Timberlake, and even a Beach Boys vibe every now and then. Yes, there’s no doubt Bell’s been busy working to mature his sound along with his appearance.
Things are off to a great start at “Sunny Afternoon” (it hardly sounds like any Drake Bell we know), which adopts a boppy, old-fashioned feeling accompanied by some nice piano instrumentals. Even on “Bull”, a harder and quicker-paced rock song, and well through “I Won’t Stand In Your Way”, a leisurely and surprisingly magnetic ballad, Ready Steady seems, at first listen, fairly successful.
It’s once we get to “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me” that we notice a difference; the album’s nice, old-timey feel turns less impressive, and even less so on “Melina”. Even Bell’s cover of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is bland, despite its intermittent guitar riffs. It does tell us one thing, however: Bell really wants to be a Beatle, or maybe Elvis Presley himself.
He even takes the liberty to remake “Makes Me Happy”, maybe to brag about his change in sound over the years; but it’s a track hardly on its way to gaining more attention than it did back in 2006. However, the very Grease-like “California Man” and the slow, cool “Give Me A Little More” end everything on a more positive note, so, overall, Bell’s LP is still relatively far from a slump.
It’s not enough to bring him back–though don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are some very devoted Drake Bell fans out there–but it’s an admirable effort. If you think you’d like an edgy Justin Timberlake with a touch of 70’s puppy love ballads, you’ve found your match. For those in search of a knockout among the racks, Ready Steady is not the way to go. Score: 6/10.
Nataly Capote/A&E Editor
Stronger tracks: “Sunny Afternoon”, “I Won’t Stand In Your Way”
Weaker tracks: “Melina”, “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me”, “Back Of My Hand”