Review Summary: In First Person show firsthand what being in first person really means.
Rather unlike their steadfast political beliefs, In First Person’s brand of emotional hardcore is an erratic tour de force, exemplified by the band’s poignant grasp over pandemonium. Although their relentless pursuit of intensity results in what can be seen by some as an abrasive album, In First Person do not fall into any form of typified brutality with Lost Between Hands Held Tight
; they maintain a sense of grace, that is to say, a lingering sense of emotionally charged anger, all through their forceful and rather severe output. This is, however, the band’s ultimate accomplishment. While a strongly enforced foundation of passion unfolds with every song, especially in the way the band blends their sagacity with an almost hectic and frenzied eagerness to propel their violence infused music, In First Person make pains to draw a fine line between aggression and emotion, before scribbling all over it and burning it with the deep seeded fervor that drives their music. Lost Between Hands Held Tight
is a vigorous and, in its own chaotic fashion, elegant twenty five minutes of ardent harmony that without a doubt leaves a longer lasting impression than one would expect.
Beginning with a gentle tide of static, ‘The Beast’ opens the album by way of a desperate melody, before descending into an antagonistic expression of beauty. The penetrating guitar melody that makes up the mid section gives the listener a moment of hindsight into the track’s conclusion, where the spindly guitar line returns to open the floodgates and let the song close in a destructive manner. ‘The Beast’ is one of the more fluid tracks of Lost Between Hands Held Tight
, where the lines between aggression and grace are somewhat blurred. ‘Item #14’, however, displays a very less than subtle distinction, beginning with a far-reaching bass-orientated melody that spontaneously explodes into what is nothing short of a sardonic burst of anger. Nevertheless, In First Person never lose an ounce of composure, the introductory bass returning and allowing the song to yet again build to a more comforting end.
Asides from their understated fragility, In First Person portray such expansive eruptions of belligerence and scorn that it feels like they’re playing the songs with a sly grin on their faces, feeding off the naivety expressed in their listeners’ eyes. ‘Kanye West Was Right’ begins with the almost mocking line, ‘I see a slight discrepancy / in this policy’, a precursor to the song’s descent into a colossal frenzy. Nonetheless, the track finds time to maintain itself, slowing down and flooding the listener with a plethora of vast riffing. ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ is another disdainfully flavoured song, its initiatory guitar line superbly building up to what is perhaps the album’s pinnacle ‘heavy’ moment, a ridiculously heavy riff delivered alongside the vocalist’s raw gutturals. All three members contribute to the album’s vocal output, allowing it to add a deeper level of diversity to its already intricate foundation. In a way similar to Circle Takes the Square, the fact that drummer Vanessa makes up one part of In First Person’s vocal attack gives Lost Between Hands Held Tight
an interesting vulnerability. Although she’s generally overshadowed, Vanessa’s screaming and moaning in ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ is very reminiscent of Julie Christmas, of Battle of Mice / Made Out of Babies fame. This, for those who aren’t sure, is a very good thing.
If the first four tracks were not powerful enough, ‘…and Time is Running Out’ is the most delicate song on the album, a beautiful clean guitar and Vanessa’s vocals opening the track before allowing it to work its way into a forcefully delivered but emotionally gripping second half. The cohesion between the various tones and musical themes on Lost Between Hands Held Tight
is sublime; there is a shroud of complexity over what, from the outset, seems to be a rather simple construction. The passionate and somewhat erratic vocal performance, together with the album’s unstructured nature, leaves it as a constantly exciting listen, never turning away from the brink of bedlam, but making sure one foot is always safely anchored on the safer side of the line.
This is, in essence, the selling point of In First Person; the band manages to traverse a plethora of moods and emotions through both its typical softer, melancholic moments, and its ferocious yet riveting aggressive moments. Such a balance has been perfected by certain bands in the genre, Off Minor and Circle Takes the Square to name a few, but this does not detract from In First Person’s own achievement. This is in no way an imitation of other bands, more an assertion of stature from a lesser known one, to show that talent, and more specifically exquisiteness, can come in all forms. Highly recommended.