Anticipation is one thing I don’t like having to deal with. It’d been three years since Hopesfall’s last studio album, A Types. Hopesfall had made such a diverse change from their first album, The Satellite Years, to A Types that many fans fell disappointed. However, even more came to love the band for who they are, an evolving group of people constantly changing the way they play. The band started out at the most basic of Hardcore/Post-Hardcore roots with the two E.P.’s The Frailty of Words, and No Wings To Speak Of. Then they incorporated a more spacey-rock influence on The Satellite Years, and added more eloquent, guitar driven spacey influences on A Types. With A Types however, the most significant change was that of Jay Forest’s sage decision to integrate more singing into the band than screaming, which had dominated all the band’s material before.
Magnetic North is surprisingly longer than anticipated. With their last two albums being only ten songs each and both around forty-minutes long, it was unexpected for Magnetic North to have thirteen songs and being nearly a whole hour long. With each song usually at least four to five minutes long, repetition is used often, but in a brilliant fashion. Hopesfall will include extra segments of music into a repeat of certain parts of a song, but Jay Forrest’s vocal job is what makes everything that much sweeter to hear over and over because it is never known how he’ll handle the next thing.
That’s why the main ingredient to the success of Hopesfall is Jay Forrest’s vocals. He gasps, screams, croons, and makes every song sound special with whatever he throws in. At times he’s reminiscent of Taking Back Sunday’s crooning Adam Lazzara, but can all of a sudden throw in raspy screaming somewhat familiar to Andrew Neufeld of Comeback Kid. Secondhand Surgery
actually could very well be mistaken for Taking Back Sunday. Jay croons the verses and peaks his voice up like Adam in the choruses. There’s little screaming in the song, so that’s another similarity to Taking Back Sunday, as well as the little rumbling bass line that interrupts the middle of the song for only a few seconds (sadly). Rx Contender the Pretender
and Devil’s Concubine
are where Jay puts everything on the table. He’s all over the place at times, but displays every one of his talents perfectly. On Devil’s Concubine
Jay starts off misleadingly soft, but near the middle end he unleashes some of his most brutal vocals to date.
One of the many aspects that were so appealing about A Types was that all the songs flowed from one another without interruption. But the transition from Cubic Zirconias Are Forever
to I Can Do This On An Island
is one of the most beautiful, lucid transitions ever. Escape Pod For Intanglibles
] on The Satellite Years is one of the best songs Hopesfall has ever written, despite the fact that it is only a two-minute interlude. On A Types interludes didn’t show up, but the band brings them back with Magnetic North. And that’s what may be one of the most enjoyable surprises on the album. I Can Do This On An Island
is one of the simpler tracks of Magnetic North, however, it is also the most dissonant, making it the most memorable track despite being so short. Jay cries out subtly, but is more emotional here than ever before.
My personal favorite part of Hopesfall is the lyrics. While nothing Hitchcock, they have contained just enough mystery and intrigue in the past to make sure to have the lyric booklet in hand nearly every time they’re listened to. With Magnetic North, there are some of those same moments, but sadly far fewer than there should be. Songs like Cubic Zirconias Are Forever
attempt to achieve the magic of The Satellite Years, but all that is produced is lyrics so corny one would rather just never know what Jay is singing. Excerpt: “If the stars in the sky are diamonds, promised to the ocean floor, we’ll fake first and leave a reflection, of what they’re searching for”
. So while Hopesfall has weakened in lyrics Bird Flu
shows still what they’re capable of. Excerpt: “As long as we’re machines, we are just a dream, no ordinary tease, of another life, come find, we ought to be, how we used to be, a more human and extraordinary, love”
There’s no more mystery to Hopesfall anymore. They didn’t surprise anyone much with this new album when in the past they’ve been known and expected to change dramatically with each release they put out. Instead of taking a step forward, it feels like Hopesfall decided just to combine the sound of The Satellite Years, and A Types without really trying anything new and exciting. Despite some disappointments however, Hopesfall has still made a solid record. Bird Flu
and Swamp Kittens
throw back to the A Types era of songs like Icarus
as well as It Happens
, and Rx Contender the Pretender
reminisces of The Satellite Years, but just with a more current sound. Definitely the main attraction of Magnetic North is Jay’s vocals; hopefully next time though Hopesfall will have a whole new package to offer that will be just as brilliantly done as what they’re really capable of.