Review Summary: An excellent Indie pop record displaying great vocals and memorable choruses.
I recently came across 1997 while searching through out the Indie rock/ pop spectrum to further diversify my taste in music and most importantly keep my mind open. I didn’t find as many bands as I would have hoped but the bands that I did find were pretty special. Ranging from Sun Kil Moon and Neutral Milk Hotel to the more poppish styling’s of Lydia and Stars, all four of these bands have certainly caught my attention to paying more attention to the Indie genre. 1997 is a rock band blending elements of alternative, indie pop, and pop rock all the while bringing in several different instruments to add a special kick. Like the two latter bands I mentioned before, Stars and Lydia, 1997 employ a dual vocal attack featuring both female and male vocals that complements the highly melodic nature of they’re music. The band formed in 2005 and since then have released two full length albums with On the Run being released just three months ago. Since the get go, members have been leaving which worries me a bit for the sake of the band because the band stability doesn‘t seem to be strong at the moment. The original female vocalist Kerri departed from the group after their debut album. Soon after On The Run was released, Alida was booted from the band and bassist Alan followed suite. Fortunately, this album is more agreeable than the band. On The Run features driving melodies, catchy choruses and emotional songwriting that will appeal to a mainstream audience and shouldn’t leave many feeling disappointed.
The band situation at the moment might seem questionable but the album itself is pretty tight. 1997’s sound can be compared to a mix of Jimmy Eat World, Lydia, Straylight Run, and even Dashboard Confessional comes to mind during the track Winds Of Change. 1997 has taken some strides to distance themselves to they’re residing neighbors. The most intriguing aspect to the band outside of Alida’s alluring vocals is the experimentation within the band. 1997 like to bring in some outside of the box instruments to complement the bare power chords and vocal tradeoffs between the two vocalists. Chimes, violin, glockenspiels, piano, and more make an entrance on several tracks which leads to a what are they going to do on the next song element.
The dual vocal aspect in music has been somewhat of a trademark for me because several reviews of mine are spent discussing my attraction for this format. What originally attracted me to this was hearing a story from two different perspectives and more often than not most of the bands that I’ve heard only do this for a gimmick. Fortunately, 1997 are great at what they’re doing starting with Alida. What can I say about her voice? It’s incredible. She displays a lot of warm emotion that can only be reimbursed with the down to earth lyrical content basing on lost relationships and other significant losses in daily life. At times, her voice boast’s a very R&B like quality that sounds really great. Although not as standout out as his counterpart, Kevin still has a great voice for the music, very smooth and easy to adjust to. Both are at they’re best when they trade off with one another. My favorite example would be “4 A.M Conversation which also happens to be my favorite song on the album. The guitars are pretty basic at what they do, simple but catchy riffs designed to gather radio airplay. Some of the melodies Caleb and Cody come up are pretty cool and the ballads are executed just as well. “I Will Always Find You” my second favorite track on the album features Alida’s excellent piano playing taking center stage. This song starts off pretty dramatic and ends on a slower note fading out to Zechariah‘s Song. Drumming and bass duties are handled at a steady pace, obviously since there’s no quick bursts of double bass or rapid blast beat patterns I don’t really have much to say other than they form a solid rhythm section with the guitars and vocals.
Production is radio quality which means the sound is pretty clear and made for commercial play. All in all, this is a solid album and I don’t really have many complaints except for a few things. I know the band tries to throw the listener off guard, if just for a moment but after a while some of the tracks begin to sound the same and some are just filler. A few filler tracks is a small price to pay because their’s quite a few songs on here that stand off on their own. Another issue although not so much a problem for a casual listener but the songwriting while being catchy and accessible, tends to be extremely predictable. A few mid tempo rockers here, a couple slower ones over there, and than a couple ballads. Now honestly, I’m not going to fret too much over this because this is a fun album to play that people should give a spin if they haven’t already.