Review Summary: Just when you thought it could not get any worse...
Sometimes there are things about a record which just irk listeners. As far as A Skylit Drive’s debut EP is concerned, their clicky drums, shoddy songwriting, and an often unbearable vocal delivery did not set well with me. The group, nevertheless, had time on their side and some room to grow. When previous vocalist Jordan Blake exited the group, many, including myself, awaited the replacement to be named and hoped some drastic improvements could be made. After the first song with the new lineup was released, progression was nowhere to be found in the vocals or with any other department. If anything, the six-piece California act was losing ground and appeared weaker than before. Spinning Wires…And The Concept of Breathing
a handful of times will only reiterate this point, as the group has reached an all-time low. A Skylit Drive’s first full length is a dreadfully tedious and over-produced record which consistently fails in presenting any worthwhile material.
The group has become (in)famous for having some rather high pitched, whinny singing along with some heavier growling. New singer Michael “Jag” Jagmin and bassist Brian White perform the singing and screaming, respectively, continue with the past format. For some unknown reason, they both felt the need to layer 80% of their vocal work. Jagmin’s clean singing is far more whinny than Blake’s, and ends up incredibly irritating. To match it is an abuse of vocal layering and editing, leading to a computerized vocal sound. White’s screaming is constantly paired with some lower growls which, once again, are used in excess. The two first real songs (because you know the group has to have the atmospheric introduction) “Knights of the Round” and “Wires and the Concept of Breathing” are dominated with headache inducing, multi-layered screams and an artificial vocal tone. These growling undertones seem to give off the illusion that the group is dishing out its heaviest material to date, but this could not be further from the truth.
Even with plenty of screaming present on the album, the poppy tendencies pop up all over, serving up a gimmicky and rather frantic result. The six-piece still seems inept with their vocal placement and carelessly uses their two vocalists in songs like “Eris and Dysnomia,” where after a standard chugging opening Jagmin sings, “Everybody everybody get down get down/this isn’t a lie this isn’t a lie/just take a word from the wise.” Not taking a word from the wise “All It Takes For Your Dreams Come True” makes constant use of the start-stop, four eighth notes to a measure, guitar rhythms. You know, the ones that Boys Like Girls and All Time Low use. When combined with some poorly placed chugs and a drawn out, dreary breakdown to close the song, things sound like straight-up popcore. With its sloppy composition and over-production, the majority of the record would not even qualify for a b-side to Underoath’s They’re Only Chasing Safety.
When a group can be this much of a chore just to tolerate, any enjoyment seems improbable. Truth is that there are times when A Skylit Drive becomes bearable. This is the case in “I’m Not A Thief, I’m A Treasure Hunter” and “Balance.” In the former, Jagmin and White actually make appropriate choices for some of their vocal harmonies. Following one of the few good choruses present, the music stops as Jagmin sings “Breathe easy the doctors are about to arrive,” marking one of the few distinctively enjoyable moments of the album. The prior, “Balance” features two of the better guitar sections on the record, as they succeed in creating an enjoyable atmospheric opening and deliver a typical yet well composed melodic outro. Even despite these pleasing moments, the group still seems so scatter brained and sporadic with their composition. Their overall generic musical work and awkward transitioning means that even when they are listenable, A Skylit Drive is sparingly memorable.
Expectations for Wires…And The Concept of Breathing
were not high to begin with, but with a new vocalist and some experience anticipations were higher than what was created. Throughout the 13 tracks, the group seems more confused and more helpless than ever. Their layered screams and growls along with their abundance of chugging sections hint at a heavier sound, yet their pop tendencies in certain rhythms and guitar melodies show the opposite. A Skylit Drive attempts to blend too many styles together and once again falls short of doing so. Their changes and transitions are carelessly performed and the final result is unmistakably sloppy. Yet again the A Skylit Drive seems to be searching for an identity within them, rarely finding one another on a similar path in their quest to do so. In revealing no cohesive nature, constant irritations, and horrendous song construction, Wires…And The Concept of Breathing
is not as bad as it is intolerable.