Review Summary: Straying from gimmicky (but plunging into generic), I See Stars delivers the fun in a rather short but packed CD.
One of the best parts about music is evolution. Back up a decade or two and you’ll find, for the most part, simplicity being the recipe for success. As technology and music taste changed, so did the music itself. Turn on your radio to any ‘top 100 hits’ channel and you’ll find vocoded-to-death half assed attempts at emotion. More commonly, find men (And quite often women) who sound like they have their balls in a SAW-esque trap, slowly constricting them as iffy pitches are snapped into place by uninventive synth loops. Although it isn’t a new trick to merge that into hardcore, I See Stars
manage to pull it off inventively with their first full length, and keep the fun rolling.
In most of today’s metalcore, adding synth pads to the background isn’t exactly groundbreaking (cough Devil Wears Prada cough
), but I See Stars manages to surpass the gimmicky image electronicore has come to earn as they do what most music should do, and that’s keep it fun. Mixing watered down metalcore drums with electro beats, dissonant guitar chords with infectious leads, and poppy synths give the songs excellent flow and something to set them apart. While the boring chug-chug breakdowns bring down the overall creativity of the band, it’s one of the few ties they retain to the harder direction they were headed.
While the music on its own is good, the real definition of the band comes from the charismatic performance of the vocalist. Devin flows in and out of vocoded glory to ‘exploring his natural voice’ in a way that is beneficial to the music, not just for the sake of it. The keyboardists screams are also enjoyable, not taking away from the experience or performance a la Attack! Attack!
or other bands of that nature. While the electronic vocals may be considered cheating or a put off to some listeners, it fits in the context of their music and is a welcome definition that compliments their otherwise generic sound.
The lyrics are fairly unimaginative, but compared to most bands, they’re deep as the Koran. With good delivery, the vocal performance leads most the songs, except the so far unmentioned instrumental interlude “The Ocean”, which is one of the greatest tracks on this record.
“I know you didn't mean this
As far as I know
Dream of me, fear of waking, sense of closeness
Goes to show
Your looking for love in all the wrong places
Seeing empty faces, awkward situations
Everything you said was a lie
Who are you pretending to be tonight”
While most of the songs fit into a near pop-core category, there are a few stand outs like the roller coasters of “Save The Cheerleader, Save The World” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, and the song “Sing This!” remains a stand out just for the sheer annoyance and lack of necessity for it on an otherwise enjoyable album. Most of the songs unfortunately blend together, and with the short length of the album it’s a shame they didn’t expand or pull out a few more tricks. In the end, they craft a fun, enjoyable record that is quite love-hate. While not ground breaking, I See Stars
pulls out everything the crowd wants to hear, even if that ends up being a bad idea. (Once again, “Sing This!”)