“The only thing we got to believe / Is that we’ll live while we’re young / And we’ll do it cause we’re wild and free,” front man Nick Santino sings in the title track of his band’s second full-length album. A Rocket to the Moon took a risk in trading their pop-punk sensibility for a more grown-up, country style — and it paid off. In “Wherever You Go,” Santino’s smooth pop vocals blend with the twang of banjos and six-strings to create an unexpected pairing. Santino sounds like the male equivalent of Taylor Swift on tracks like “First Kiss,” a song with slightly clichéd lyrics, but that will have you bopping along nevertheless. Yet the album redeems itself with rootsy, radio-ready tunes like “I Do,” which feature arching pop choruses and country-style storytelling. While recording in Nashville the band successfully stumbled upon a more meaningful, matured sound, but without losing their infectious, pop-rock appeal along the way.
Sounds best when: soaring down the highway on a summer road trip with friends
99–Cent Downloads: “If I’m Gonna Fall in Love, Ever Enough”