Nothing But Thieves
Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN - 23/11
Sleeping With Sirens
Let's Cheers To This
Written by: TL on 03/09/2011 00:49:13
As you may have noticed, our by now mythical British/Chinese writer BL recently returned miraculously to re-reinforce us in our constant struggle to keep up with current releases. Frankly, I thought he might have been eaten by dogs in some ironic twist of fate or something, and hence AP and I had actually started to scavenge his list of pending reviews. Most of what I took from there, I've let him have back upon his return, but one record I've held onto, namely "Let's Cheers To This", the sophomore album from Californian post-hardcore quintet Sleeping With Sirens.
Admittedly, I've been sort of sceptical coming into this record, because I never quite got on with the band's debut, "With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear", because while I felt it had some good moments, it also had way too many occasions on which it catered to the scene's lowest common denominator, including super generic breakdowns, unnecessary use of autotune and moments of rather lame electronics. That's why I've been quite surprised to see that the changes Sleeping With Sirens have made from album to album are almost exclusively smart.
Basically, all the stupid shit has gone. No tuner, no cheap keys, no idiotcore breaks. Rest assured, there are still heavy parts here and there, but they are shorter and less disruptive to the flow of the songs. They actually made me think briefly of Emery, which is all ways a good sign, so halleluja. In place of the gimmicks, SWS's expression now rides primarily on a steady stream of excellent vocal melodies from singer Kellin Quinn. Quinn has a remarkable voice, that can be as shrill and high pitched as A Skylit Drive's Michael Jagmin but is also capable of a strained, powerful croon alá Jonny Craig, and moreover, Quinn probably has better articulation than both, making it even easier to latch onto his many good refrains.
To prove this point, one could really highlight any of the album's first five songs, as each are plenty catchy to stick to your mind well after the album's run its course, but my first pick would have to be "If You Can't Hang", which sees Quinn spitting out words blazing fast, singing "You're such a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty face, but you turned into a pretty big waste of my time" with the kind of attitude that could likely attract some Pierce The Veil fans. The most immediately memorable moment of the record however, comes in the super emo "A Trophy Father's Trophy Son", which ends with an absolute winner of a melody in the refrain going "Is this what you call a family?". Still, while both of those songs are awesome, the overall favourite has to be "Your Nickel Ain't Worth My Dime", which progresses brazenly from an r'n'b type verse, into a power-rock chorus followed later by a kickass guitar solo - think Closure In Moscow's "A Night At The Spleen" here.
Let's pump the breaks for one moment though, because there are still a few minor things worth observing, which the band would do well to work on when making their next album. Firstly, if the album title or the lyrical bits I've already posted haven't already clued you in, I've got to say that the lyrics are by no stretch particularly profound or well thought out, and as always, it can seem kind of cheesy when a band like this sings with constant emotion while the lyrics seem a little trivial. Secondly, the reason I haven't spent much time describing the instrumental side to the band, is that it sort of takes the backseat in a very Emarosa-type way on this record. It serves brilliantly, backing up Quinn and flaring up in solos and heavy influxes on occasion, but it's still his singing that will make you remember the songs, rather than any particularly tasty riffs brought in by new guitarist Jack Fowler (formerly of Broadway). Lastly, even Quinn delivers at least one misstep, when he reaches for notes that are high even for him, in the album-closing title track, and for once sounds a bit grating.
However, like I said, I do consider these observations rather minor in the grander scheme of things, because the wealth of catchy hooks on this record alone are enough to make it appear as a very consistent and re-listenable album. Hell, even the token ballad "All My Heart" works quite well, even if it sits a bit oddly between "Let's Cheers To This" and the rest of the record. More importantly though, this album showcases a band that has both a very talented vocalist, great melodies, and seemingly also a knack for - and will to - ridding themselves of any elements to their sound which may tie them down with their more generic contemporaries. All this considered, I don't see what's not to like.
Download: My Trophy Father's Trophy Son, Your Nickel Ain't Worth My Dime, If You Can't Hang
For The Fans Of: Emarosa, Broadway, A Skylit Drive, Jamie's Elsewhere
Release Date 10.05.2011