Something Corporate always had more of a knack for overall craftsmanship in their songwriting than their contemporaries, largely because Andrew McMahon's strongest influences were Billy Joel and Elton John. And although they were unafraid to delve headlong into songs about girls and parties, they at least at the ability to present those generic ideas with crisp power pop hooks.
No band in the genre utilized a piano like Something Corporate. And on North, McMahon carried more of the melodies than ever before with the guitars largely sinking into the background, save for a couple of strong exceptions ("Space", "Only Ashes").
You can call North the band's attempt at going "darker" - which, for any Orange County band, means writing fewer songs about the fun parts of love to focus on a relationship's more melancholic aspects - but they certainly don't abandon the summery pop ambitions altogether, as "21 and Invincible" broke through the dreariness to become a major high spot on the album.
Other album highlights "Me and the Moon" and "Ruthless" would act as spiritual pre-cursors to the kind of songs McMahon would write in his also-excellent sophomore album with Jack's Mannequin.