Review Summary: Excepting a few stand out tracks, this album leaves listeners hanging. Really, 1905 is just the bad version of Life at These Speeds.
1905 - Voice
1905 is the poppiest band you'll ever hear who have had the "emo" label slapped onto them other than Grade. They could be confused with a lot of punk or pop punk bands if it weren't for the fact that double-time beats don't really figure in to their formula that often. There is screaming, but it's not the all-out emotional bleating of a true emo band. Some of their songs feature extensive acoustic guitar and singing. And on top of that their lyrics have a sociopolitical focus. Come on. Where's the heartbreak? Aside from being left of center for an "emo" band, are they actually good? Yes and no.
To start, I'll describe their general feel. The instruments generally emulate punk. The music is chord progression-based with a few octave melodies on top of that and riffs only figure into the equation as fills. A cool aspect of the band is that the guitar uses barred chords a lot so at any given point the harmonic language feels a little more complex than typical punk power-chord progressions but the simple, repeating feel is maintained. The bass is cool and its lines are pretty memorable. I like how the bass and drums sync up a lot. The drumming uses toms and the bass drum a lot to create a sort of rumbling feel to the music. With the bass doubling on top of that consistent rumble, there is a strong pulse to most of the songs that adds to the energy of the tracks without requiring typical punk speed, predictable snare hits and all. The vocals are also pretty refreshing. There a male and female vocalist, and it feels like the female voice is the dominant one both in singing and screaming. They also often double the voices, which is a cool effect, complementing the synced bass and drums.
So, 1905 is sorta different. Big whoop. Their overall sound is sort of trapped between punk's speed and emo's emotional power, neither invigorating nor moving the listener more than offerings from either genre could do straight on their own. Sure there are some awesome songs. "Control" is 1905 at their fastest and most exciting. "Quote" is a pretty track with poignant female vocals and a nice acoustic chord progression. The album closer "For Sale" is oddly reminiscent of Boy's Life and other Midwest bands but shoved through a modernized, punk filter. However, there are also fatty duds, including the tracks "Silhouette" and "Conversation," which don't provide anything interesting for the album as a whole and aren't even really that interesting as individual songs. Overall, the album just feels flat despite the stand out tracks. The lame and the awesome cancel each other out.
The end result of this canceling out? Voice
is enjoyable but skippable. Pass it up for better albums by similar bands. If you like the DC aspects of the bands' sound listen to Navies or Life at These Speeds. If you like the female vocals check out Circle Takes the Square. If you like the acoustic poppiness just listen to Damien Rice. It's really that easy. You don't need to unceremoniously shove all of those sounds into a blender to enjoy them all.
Recommended Tracks: Control, Quote, For Sale