Although since the release of the band’s debut album, Days The Shape Our Lives, the quintet have been on tour with the likes of The Wonder Years and Polar Bear Club (adding to the already impressive supporting list which features Mayday Parade, New Found Glory and Simple Plan, to name a few), that’s not the defining reason as to why fans have had to wait four years for the release of I’m Completely Fine. Writing the sophomore album, a self release out on September 1st and available to pre-order now, has seen the band through some fairly drastic lows; financial setbacks, homelessness and line-up changes being among them. What plagued the band most, though, was desperately searching for the sound they wanted – it would seem, that in these final twelve tracks, they have found just that.
An under a minute title track opens the record with definitive riffs, accompanied with bold vocals that seem constantly on the edge of breaking into chorus. Whilst nothing especially fancy, this unwavering, determined beginning puts a good front on the album. Opposites doesn’t waste time getting into the meat of the album, with barely half a bar staying the same as the last. Back are the bold vocals that ebb away to reveal careful instrumental, and the clarity from Samuel (James Thomson, vocals) makes it easy to hang on every word of the track.
A few seconds of riffs pass in Skin And Bones before percussion and vocals break in. Despite the drumming feeling slightly too fast and trying to pull too much in, the lyrics fit perfectly and most noticeable, “I think you forget we’re all just people / Just skin and bones / There’s nothing special hiding underneath those clothes”, highlights the brilliant lyricism that lays beneath the tight guitar. Rush For Gold switches to a more vocal-intense and matter-of-fact self-critical track, with the instrumental fitting itself around the focus of the song, and cutting off abruptly.
Virtues boasts an intro that, if it weren’t for the dominant percussion, borders on a pop-punier sound. As it is, the gravelly (and later, harsh) vocals keep the signature heavy sound, albeit falling into a few cliches with it – another slightly predictable breakdown and then like “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t try.” Home Alone makes another short burst of a track, with the perfect vocals to make either an interlude or crowd-participation track at a live set. Despite the self-reflective lyrics of Marks Of A Slave, not much sets it apart from the rest of the album regarding the instrumental – one of the disadvantages of this genre of music is that it’s increasingly hard to stand out from others, let alone from yourself.
Self-proclaimed interlude, Truth, takes away from the all out ferocity of the preceding track, before Heisenberg launches in with the dominant vocals again, though this track shows the return of the hectic drumming. The midway drop of the instrumental to a single distorted guitar and the stunted buildup, combined with the sole vocal emphasis towards the close, make this track a bit of a stand out on the album. An acoustic opening to Hang In mixes with the returning self-deprecating yet wise lyrics, and although the vocal style remains unchanged, the band take chance to show off their capability regards lyricism more clearly, as well as creating an opportunity for a crowd sing-a-long.
For the penultimate track the general style of the album returns, with Things We Know roping in the harsh vocals again and a couple of cliches (“empty promises”) to accompany a break down, before closing Past Five Years seems to reflect on the band’s career (much as Deaf Havana’s The Past Six Years does), with the more pop-punk sound closing on a bit of a cheesy, “I turned my weakness into my strengths”.
Although in many ways this is a standard sophomore alternative/pop-punk/rock album, it is notable for its solid sound and unwavering wise resolve, underlining that the band have found and refined their sound.