The Beatles - With the Beatles (1963), 4/10

The Beatles second studio album is dramatically inferior to their first. With the Beatles shows the foursome progressing in the wrong direction, focusing on aspects of performance and especially in songwriting. The better songs are spread across the entire record but interrupted by inane filler that sounds even more dated than their previous release, perhaps because of the focus on polish. Of the strongest tracks “It Won’t Be Long”, “Till There Was You”, “You Really Got a Hold on Me”, and “Money”, only one is written by the group, credited to the Lennon-McCartney duo. The rest are either passable or dreadful depending on their presentation because very little separates the originals as far as writing is concerned. Fortunately, the band would see drastic changes in songwriting inspiration and methodology, as these songs feel largely uninspired and formulaic in comparison. Considering their competition, it is no wonder that the Beatles found success, but this album does not make any sort of argument in favor of their importance, in fact representing a potentially disastrous career without artistic growth. Again, fortunate for the evolution of modern music, and for their own, Bob Dylan was doing more important and much higher quality work earlier that year. There are also moments of lingering passion that can be heard, predominantly from Lennon, carried over from their debut and continued to the band’s fortune with subsequent projects. The argument for the album’s integrity is hard to make and even harder to consider when taking their writing output into account. The potent combination of poor artistic choices with colorless material make With the Beatles one of the group’s worst creations.