Review Summary: Imaginative music and dark lyrics from one of the punk/emo scene's best kept secrets.
I cannot believe that no one has written a review for this album yet. If you don't want to read any more, just know that it's a great listen and completely worth your time. If you want a bit more explanation, here goes....
Park, now defunct as of May 2007, has gone through a bunch of lineup changes over the years, but on this album they are:
Ladd Mitchell: Vocals/Guitar
Justin Valenti: Guitar
Gabe Looker: Bass/Vocals
Miles Logan: Drums
It Won't Snow Where You're Going is Park's second album, after the great No Signal. I think this one is better than No Signal as well as their third, and last album, Building A Better _______. All of them are great albums, but It Won't Snow has the best lyrics as well as the best songs. The sound is not vastly different on It Won't Snow, but the songwriting is simply at its peak. Beware, the lyrics can be quite depressing. However, I find the lyrics one of the most important parts of the album. I know some will cringe at lyrics concerning thoughts of suicide and lost love, but Ladd really does it in a way that doesn't seem "emo" and "cliche" - there are certainly no "cut my wrists and black my eyes" lines - you can really feel the emotion in the lyrics and the music as well, and that alone makes this a compelling listen.
The music is great as well. Park does a great job of building a lot of texture with their two guitars, and not relying on too many power chords to do the work. On many of the songs, both guitars are riffing or merely playing single notes and letting the bass do the work. I hesitate to call it "math-rock," but the riffs are quite fresh and imaginative, and some of the songs don't follow a standard verse/chorus/verse structure which is a nice change from so much out there today. Also, Park is very adept at making their songs very intense and loud without being overtly heavy or using too much distortion, and it comes off very well.
I don't know who started the "track by track" review format, but it seems quite prevalent on this site, and it almost feels incomplete if the review doesn't contain it. Since this is the first review for this album, I'll provide some comments on all 10 tracks.
Gasoline Kisses For Everyone (10/10) - One of the best songs on the album. Opening with a simple drum beat and transitioning into a really cool riff, the lyrics are great, and it gets quite intense toward the end.
Day One And Counting (9/10) - This one keeps the energy of the first song, and the riff right before the chorus is so cool!
Pomona For Empusa (10/10) - A darker feel than the first two songs. The palm muting that opens the song is very cool, and the lyrics that close the song are pretty harrowing - "I cry aloud to the sheets that grip back tight/Fall asleep to the sound of my own life/If I drink this bottle fast enough, I might get lucky and won't wake up." Like I said before, these lyrics aren't easy to swallow, and despite the fact that that's a pretty depressing statement, we've all felt some form of that sentiment, and Ladd captures that feeling in an intelligently written way that doesn't come off as cliche sadness.
Conversations With Emily (10/10) - This is the softest song on the record. It opens with some simple hitting on the ride cymbal. By no means is it a ballad, just a chilled out song, and quite a good one at that.
Which Wrist First (8/10) - The energy is brought back by this song. It's a good song, just not a standout like the others.
Numerous Murders (8/10) - Another good song with a similar feel to Which Wrist First - high on energy, but not poppy by any means. When I say "high on energy" it really just means that the guitars are loud and distorted and the song moves fairly fast. Most of the songs on the album have a "minor chord" quality to them, which allows for a dark feeling through out the album.
Dear Sweet Impaler (10/10) - This is the centerpiece of the album, in my opinion. My favorite song on this album used to be Gasoline Kisses For Everyone, but it's been overtaken by this one. For a punk/emo band, this song feels epic, it doesn't follow a linear pattern, and there are several different parts which allows for a feeling the song is twisting and turning, and you don't know where it's going to end up. Some of the best lyrics on the album, and also some of the hardest to hear. Saying this song is dark is an understatement, but there's something really beautiful in that darkness.
Your Latest Victim (9/10) - It's hard to follow Dear Sweet Impaler, but Your Latest Victim does a great job of being fast, catchy, and relatively short at 2:37. It also features a bit of screaming right before the chorus which adds to the fun.
This Would Be Easier If You Would Just Die (8/10) - Well, that's a quite a song title! This song features distortion on the guitars, but it seems to drag a bit after the quickness of Your Latest Victim. By no means a bad song, just not as good as the one before it.
Codex Avellum (10/10) - Such an awesome closer to the album. Fast moving, and it features more screaming than the whole album combined. Around the 3 min mark, the guitars slow down, and then the drums start moving faster to prepare for the last minute which is so intense - a whirlwind of guitars and some great screaming, and then the song ends abruptly.
I really can't say enough good things about this album, and this band as well. I hate using the word "emo", (I know everyone says that), but if you've exhausted your collection of punk/emo/indie bands, check out Park. They really are a breath of fresh air, and they bring something new to the table. I can't immediately think of another band that sounds like them, and that's always nice to find. This album is by no means an easy listen. The music can be complex, and the lyrics are striking in how personal they are. It takes some time, but those really are the best albums - the ones that reward you with each subsequent listen, where you discover something new on each replay. I suggest picking up all of Park's albums, but start off with this one - it's their best.
It's unfortunate that Park never made it - they really deserved it - they were certainly talented enough. But, as we all know, sometimes the most talented bands are destined to stay underground - and sometimes that what makes them even more special.
Gasoline Kisses For Everyone
Dear Sweet Impaler