was established in 2010 from Iselin, New Jersey, and released their debut EP "I'm Not Dying
Today" two years later. Afterwards, they released their first full-length album "Outcasts" in 2012
, which appears to have reeled in a solid following (Especially considering that they had signed to the well-known label Rise Records prior). In early 2015, their sophomore full-length "Mind Games" would be added to the band's sprouting collection.
If you take a look at this album's full cover, you'll see that it shows an iPhone screen; this alone should give you an idea of what sort of sound you're in for: A record drenched in a lot of electronic-pop. Though the pop and post-hardcore fusion has been done by plenty of other bands in the past such as I See Stars
, and That's Outrageous
, this is still a welcome concept for creating some upbeat and electrically-charged music that can be entertaining and invigorating. Sadly, while the album as a whole isn't necessarily terrible, it suffers from a number of serious glaring problems.
For starters, the musicianship is passable, but there's nothing remarkable about it whatsoever. The screams and singing are rather decent and performed with plenty of the energy it needs to carry the emotion, but they sound like those of every other post-hardcore band out there. The same can be said for the guitars and drumming, which, respectively, consist of the modern metalcore chugs and the relatively simple beats we've come to expect of the genre; again, they're not poorly executed per-se, but there is no doubt that they sound very generic, and therefore, not that engaging.
Speaking of the instrumentation, the synthesizer effects and electronic sampling in this album are a very mixed bag. On one hand, there are times when the music manages to hit a rather tight and somewhat gripping balance between both the hardcore and the pop sides of the spectrum. The two best examples of this would be the songs "No Chaser" and "Afraid," which do deliver in how the electronic effects are integrated into the music and are the best songs that this record has to offer. The way that the electronics accompany the music actually add to the upbeat atmosphere, which really helps in keeping the audience's attention. Instances such as these show that the band does know how to get the right mix between the hardcore musicianship itself and the sampling to create an interesting and somewhat empowering result, albeit only occasionally.
On the other hand, however, some of the sampling in the rest of the tracklist is cringe-inducing. The prime example of this would be the song "Bad Girls," which is easily the worst song in the whole record. Right from the first second, there is an obnoxious repetition of "Got 'em all wet" (Listen to the first twenty seconds and see if you can bear hearing the same part about three times again in the span of about 3 minutes). It doesn't take long before it becomes rather painful to listen to in how pandering and repetitive it sounds. This isn't helped by other annoying tidbits such as the Cher Lloyd grunts from the terrible "Want U Back," resulting in the song being too gimmicky and dated to be enjoyable. Another example is the introduction of "Whatever You Want It to Be," where the electronic looping severely overwhelms the music, fatiguing the listener almost immediately. This hurts the album from both a technical and entertainment standpoint, as the sampling is too poorly placed to be technically well-done, and the sampling itself is too bloated and cheesy to enjoy.
On the subject of electronic sampling, this album was produced and mixed by Erik Ron, who is known for doing similar work for a lot of other bands such as Motionless In White
, Crown The Empire
, and I The Mighty. For the most part, he did do a good job of giving the music an appropriately polished sound that fits the poppy formula while leaving room for some atmosphere. That
being said, however, going back to the previous issue, the electronics can sometimes sound too loud, overwhelming the rest of the music. Generally speaking, however, the mixing is more or less pretty solid.
Just like the synthesizer effects, the song-writing also has some severe weak points. There are structural flops peppered throughout the tracklist that actually break the immersion of the audience into the music itself, thus hurting the album's entertainment value. For an example, about a minute into the title track, there is a part that seems to be building up into something intense judging from the increasing volume and such, but when the song hits the climax, it's very underwhelming; it's a very simple electronic beat that doesn't have much of any punch to it. On top of that, some of the songs overall tend to sound too similar to one another in terms of their sound, pacing, structure, and tone (i.e. "Like a Drug" and "Whatever You Want It to Be"), taking away some of the tracks' overall momentum. Consistency is always important, of course, but this sort of repetition is pushing it.
"Mind Games" is all polish, but very little substance. On the plus side, the musicianship and production are somewhat decent, and there are a few instances where the electronic sampling actually plays its part well in the album. With all that said, however, there has too many damning issues for this record to be very likable; while the musicianship is fine, nothing about it stands out, the electronics can be grating and overwhelming, and the writing has a few major hiccups. Overall, both from an enjoyment and technical standpoint, this album is nothing short of mediocre. Even as someone who does enjoy some straight-forward pop from which this record is based on (i.e. Ellie Goulding, OneRepublic, Lights) every now and then, I don't recommend it very highly. Serious post-hardcore and radio-chart fans may like it, but as for everyone else, I'd pass.
Originally posted on: http://metaljerky.blogspot.com/