Review Summary: The sooner God Or Julie fully embrace their modern rock sensibilities, the better.
Your beloved writer rarely reads the pre-match blurbs that accompany new CDs, for a variety of reasons, however the press release that accompanies God Or Julie’s second album This Road Before
was clearly written with his beating heart in mind- why else would the band list Georgia’s finest the Marvelous 3
amongst their chief early influences?
Recent tours alongside Buckcherry
and Finger Eleven
might have convinced some to peg New York four-piece God Or Julie as mere pop metal revivalists. However, as This Road Before
demonstrates, God Or Julie’s influences are a little more dispersed than that, taking in the heavy theatricality of Muse
, the sweet pop harmonies of Butch Walker
et al. and the lush alternative pop of Our Lady Peace
. Their delivery upon these sterling ingredients is uneven across eleven tracks, but at their best God Or Julie are capable of competing with any of the big names mentioned above.
Opener ‘Nothing Further From The Truth’ has a tinge of the Avenged Sevenfolds
to it with creeping gothic piano and luxurious guitar harmonies, while singer JP Johnson’s trembling tenor bears close resemblance to Muse’s Matt Bellamy. Surprisingly however, rather than continuing down the hard rock track, ‘Nothing Further From The Truth’ resolves to a simple but infectious power pop chorus that could more closely be related to the likes of My Chemical Romance
and Matchbook Romance
. The formula is repeated on ‘Waste Your Tears’ and ‘Bury Me,’ but the initial effect is lost amid inferior melodies.
It is perhaps no mere coincidence that Matchbook drummer Aaron Stern wound up joining God Or Julie following his former band’s dissolution in 2007. Both eat up a similar catalogue of influences which, while never really evolving into a sound that’s particularly distinctive or original, are executed with little paralleled enthusiasm and skill. ‘Say Your Last Goodbye,’ barring its cathartic finish, could be a straight port from Our Lady Peace’s Gravity
album, finding JP in perfect imitation of Raine Maida’s jumpy tenor. Brother Adam Johnson weighs in with a chunky, Buckcherry-like riff on ‘Bury Me,’ while ‘Let It Bleed Again’ is unapologetic in its aping of Muse’s Origin Of Symmetry
, from the fluttering ‘New Born’-like intro to the barbed wire ‘Hyper Music’-styled riffing.
Surprisingly in this day and age, This Road Before
’s token ballad is in fact the true standout. ‘Being Human’ combines fiercely melodic power pop in the Everybody Else
vein with simple, powerful lyrics and a masterful vocal performance. Contrasting a straightforward piano-led verse with a very different falsetto-laden chorus, Johnson relates simple sentiments of love gone needlessly astray with the words: “Now that it’s over / I hope you’ve found peace / ‘Cause after all that we’ve been through / It’s something I couldn’t give you.”
Melodramatic though it is, the track works on the twin strengths of strong, varied songwriting and irresistible melodies- the lyrics are merely the icing on the cake.
Though not exactly plagued by inconsistency, This Road Before
is hit-and-miss enough that the lack of a single, coherent sound winds up detracting from the overall effect. God Or Julie’s forays into pop punk- the lethargic ‘Waste Your Tears’ in particular- rank as the album’s weakest moments, though the rousing opener goes someway towards redressing the balance. However with tunes like ‘Being Human’ and closer ‘White’ in their armoury, the sooner God Or Julie fully embrace their modern rock sensibilities, the better.