Graduating Life

II

Written by: PP on 05/09/2021 19:36:47

Three years ago, Graduating Life (feat. Mom Jeans' Bart Thompson) burst onto scene awareness through a scream-laden, intensely passionate sophomore album "Grad Life". It was an angular piece of emo/alternative that had distinct indie and punk flavoring laid on top, making it difficult to pigeonhole despite presenting a wonderfully familiar soundscape if you were into bands like Polar Bear Club, Touché Amoré, or even older My Chemical Romance records.

Their third album "II" smoothens out that formula somewhat and represents an evolution in sound. If the previous record was edgy and rough in places, this one is more like a Say Anything album. It's a polished, mature album that still balances itself somewhere between indie rock, emo, and punk, but perhaps with a stronger lean on the former than the latter this time around. The vocals are no longer as gravelly and raw, now eerily resembling Max Bemis' delivery on the self-titled Say Anything record. Sure, there is the odd moment with scratchy screaming like on "Crushed & Smothered", but for the most part, Thompson's delivery is more restrained and clean-cut than before.

Naturally, it feels like the expression has lost a notch of passion. The raspy style just felt a bit more honest and more directly sourced from the heart. The electronics on "In The Back" and "19 Stars" are also in a different direction than I would've like to see the band go towards. That being said, the lyrical universe is still loaded on emotional charge as is evident on "Fine" or "Not That Bad", so it's more of an issue of getting accustomed to the new sound, I suppose. After all, songs like "Let's Make A Scene", "Photo Album" and "Fine" are solid examples of emotionally charged indie/alternative. The balladic "I Wrote You This Song" is another great example of quality heart-on-your-sleeve lyricism.

So while Graduating Life has delivered another solid record on "II", many fans leaning towards the heavier and gruffer sound will likely find themselves hoping for a louder and more aggressive sound, like yours truly does.

Download: Fine, Let's Make A Scene, Crushed & Smothered,
For the fans of: Say Anything, Polar Bear Club, (old) My Chemical Romance
Listen: Facebook

Release date 09.07.2021
Pure Noise Records

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