I was excited when I heard that We The Kings were releasing a Christmas album. When I finally heard the album, entitled Greetings From The Sandbar, I didn’t know what to make of it. Why? Because it doesn’t sound much like We The Kings. Not because it’s Christmas music, but because it’s not pop rock or pop punk or whatever you prefer to call their usual sound. Instead, well, I’m not sure what it is. At times it sounds like reggae. At other times, it almost sounds like salsa. And it always sounds like some kind of tropical music you’d expect to hear in a commercial for Aruba. In other words, it’s the very last thing I would ever expect a We The Kings Christmas album to sound like.
Still, I forced myself to give it a few more spins and damn if it hasn’t grown on me. I’m totally in love with their rendition of “White Christmas” now. It makes me picture a couple vacationing in the Bahamas over the holidays, who find themselves surprised to be missing the snow. Another fun track is “Little Drummer Boy” even though the beats are pretty mellow. (My favorite version of that one is by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.) I also give them props for doing religious songs like “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night.” You might not have noticed it, but lately, many artists are avoiding the religious songs when they put out Christmas albums. I believe Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani and Sia are all guilty of that and I’m sure they’re not the only ones. Now, I’m actually not crazy about the religious songs, but I like that they’re there, that the band isn’t trying to take the Christ out of Christmas. Besides, We The Kings’ versions give me that heartwarming feeling I get when I’m looking at greeting cards. They also make me wax nostalgic, which is surprising since they’re brand new renditions, but that’s what they do to me. Songs that don’t make me feel that way are “One People” and “There Is A Light,” their two original songs here. “There Is A Light” in particular is fast becoming one of my favorite Christmas songs released during the past few years. Quite touching, it is, and touching is a word that sums up this album perfectly. -Michael McCarthy