Review Summary: With a lack of variety, [i]Idle Will Kill[/i] ends up sounding like a generic, though still listenable, 14 song EP.
I first heard Osker through Epitaph's Punk-o-Rama series. Punk-o-Rama 6, to be more accurate, where the song "Strangled" is included. While the singer's voice was a bit out of tune, and a bit whiney at times, the song was undeniably catchy, and it ended up becoming one of my favorite tracks of Punk-o-Rama 6. Then, years later, while spelunking through a Canadian record store, I came across an Osker CD for $6 in the used bin. For poops and giggles, I checked the track list, and saw [/i]Strangled[i] was on it, so I figured I might as well pick it up. With some decently witty and meaningful lyrics and some solid Pop Punk music, Osker made a Pop Punk CD that serves as an underwhelming sendoff to Epitaph's Pop Punk era of the late 90s and early 2000s, but it stands alone as a decent, though largely forgettable, Pop Punk album.
Now, for the Track By Track.
A short sort of intro track. It starts of with just a lone acoustic guitar, and a very abrupt introduction to Devon's voice. You can hear the whineiness and pitch problems I eluded to earlier on the second note of this track. So, love it or hate it, you know what you're getting yourself into right off the bat. The lyrics talk about friends of the band judging their music, and the band isn't too happy about it. The guitar stays acoustic throughout, but the rest of the band comes in eventually. The "Chorus" isn't that great, but in general, it's a decent intro to the CD.
Starts off with a kind of nifty bass riff, vocals, and some drums. Builds into the full band, and jumps straight into the chorus. An overly angsty song, with a fairly juvenile chorus, saying "Grab the wrist / pull away / I don't want to die today / and so I won't". The break between the second chorus and bridge is kind of nice, but all in all, it's a fairly predictable song. A very catchy song, but not a ton of substance to be found. Still, a fun listen.
This song starts pretty much instantly into a fairly fast punk beat, with long guitar chords, over fast drums and bass. A lot of the vocals are a bit out of Devon's range, so his vocal quirks are more evident than previously. The chorus is a nice sing/shout vocal style, which is admittedly more tolerable than his voice during the verses. The drumwork is pretty quick, and the bass part is fairly interesting. The guitar doesn't do anything overly exciting, but you can't ask for anything. Over all, the vocals are the weak point of this track. Aside from the vocals, a good song, though.
Once again, not much of an intro to this song. Just instant lyrics. The verse is largely uninteresting, but the Pre-Chorus is very catchy, with nice background vocals, and the chorus has some interesting guitar parts behind the vocals. Another Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus pattern, and a largely uninteresting bridge at the end.
Finally, a song with an instrumental introduction. The main guitar riff is sort of catchy, with simple drums and bass backing it up. The verses' lyrics are a bit juvenile and heavy-handed. The chorus would be good if sung by anyone else, but Devon's vocal tone just kind of ruins the harmonies they are trying to achieve in the chorus. The best part is the acoustic guitar outro.
Piece by Piece
Some fairly interesting musical writing in this song overall. A pretty fast song, with a nifty little bass solo in the middle. By far the most mature and well thought-out lyrics on the album so far. The only other music is pretty much the main riff played without vocals over top, but it's a nice, straight-forward rock song.
A haunting introduction, with distant, distorted vocals over subtle guitar and bass. A pretty neat effect, overall. Some more typical fair in the music department, but the lyrics seem rather disjunct, like he just had a few nifty ideas to convey, and threw them all in one song. The style change in the middle gives a nice change of pace, followed by a pretty boring guitar solo. The only really bad part of this song is when Devon says "hard" and has one of the most annoying accents I've ever heard from that particular word.
A very cool song. The intro of lone electric guitar and vocals is some of the best singing Devon does on this album. There are a couple notes that are a bit ugly, but the lyrics are great, as are the melodic ideas. Some of the most mature lyrical writing on the album are in this song. After a verse and chorus with just guitar and vocals, the drums enter with a tribal beat, and some subtle bass lines, too. The song then builds very effectively into the next chorus, when the true full band enters. There are some nice vocal harmonies during the chorus, followed by, you guessed it, a rather uninteresting bridge / solo. However, after the bridge, they go into another rather subdued verse, with Devon doing a couple screams that truly sound heartfelt. After a final chorus, one of the album's high points ends fairly effectively.
The Mistakes You Make
A fast, straightforward pop punk song, here. Nothing particularly interesting aside from the bridge (for a change_, but nothing that detracts from the quality of the song, either. Just another average Pop Punk song, in the midst of an average Pop Punk album.
Out of Touch
The CD isn't necessarily becoming weaker, or stale, by this point. As a stand alone song, this song is plenty good. However, I can only say that Osker can make decent, average Pop Punk so many times without becoming obnoxious. So, here's another decent song, and a decent CD.
Back to You
Oh look, another decent song, with a few annoying vocal quirks. A nifty little song, but I don't want to sound like a broken record. Fairly interesting drums during the chorus. Actually, the drums are the strongest part of this song, all around. So, ya... There's that.
Another highlight on this album. After a short instrumental intro, Devon does a very depressing verse with only clean guitar. You can really hear conviction in his voice for a change, like for the rest of the CD, he just doesn't mean as much to him as this song does. Pretty strong lyrically, good musically, and manages to keep Devon from sounding horrible for the most part. One of my favorite tracks on the album.
Going on the Instincts
Very interesting musical writing throughout this song, but the lyrics detract from the quality of the song, overall. Some nifty time changes. If only the lyrics and vocals had been stronger, this song would have been in the running fro my favorite song on the album, but as it stands, it's just another forgettable, decent song.
A pretty nifty clean guitar intro, and some decent lyrics and vocals. Again, you can hear true conviction in Devon's voice. Some neat drum work at parts, and musically, one of the better songs. The whole band does their best group effort on this track, as far as part writing, and performance. About 3/4 of the way through, it goes down to just vocals and clean guitar, then builds back into a full band sound for a last chorus and verse. A very solid way to end the CD, certainly, though I could have done without the little drum solo to finish it off. Really, the drum solo detracts from the finality of the song, and makes me expect another track, which in the case of this particular album, isn't a good thing. 14 tracks is enough.
So, in case I haven't made it clear enough, this is a very listenable, very average Pop Punk album. I could definitely listen to it beginning to end and not be angry that I listened to it. For music at a party or something, it would be great, as I doubt people would complain about this style of music. Each standalone song is pretty good in its own right, but as an album, it just sound very same, and a bit like a 14 song EP. A very one dimensional album, all in all, but definitely listenable.
- Disconnect, Disconnect
- Piece by Piece