Review Summary: No amount of duct tape can fix this broken album.
Silverstein will never be a truly respected band. Their pop-punk, post-hardcore sound makes them more of a communal guilty pleasure, which is why I unashamedly purchased their latest output A Shipwreck In the Sand
at my nearest Wal-Mart. I snapped the disc in my CD player and this is what I heard:
#1: Silverstein are trying to be dark. Opener “A Great Fire” opens with somber piano before leading into a talentless screaming verse. The song oozes angst the band should have outgrown, like a four-year-old trying to act serious. This is what you’d expect from the band, and it’s easy to ignore for the sake of a decent song. The first single, “Vices,” is similar in style; lyrically shallow yet catchy enough to enjoy.
#2: I awkwardly enjoyed Silverstein’s last two albums, which surprised me. Being now jaded, however, I walked right into this album. Shipwreck
even snared me for a moment with the promising first tracks, but afterwards comes off its opening high and…flat-lines. Starting immediately with “Broken Stars” and persisting to the final track is a blandness. The choruses are drained of any shred of worth, and the sorry screams add none of the intended maturity. Even on the anti-war cut “Born Dead,” I find that featured vocalist Scott Wade (formerly of Comeback Kid
) detracts rather than adds to the music. His “punk” shouts are whiny and annoying, overshadowing Silverstein frontman Shane Told’s decent singing. On songs like “Their Lips Sink Ships” and the title track, the band makes an attempt at a As Cities Burn
-like ambience, which comes off clumsily between heavier songs like “I Am the Arsonist.”
Silverstein have always been able to hide their post-hardcore mediocrity with quaint catchiness, but now that that has evaporated, the band’s weaknesses are exposed. Told’s singing is decent, but his screams are amateurish and overused. The guitars are simple and weak, and ultimately all merit to the band has dissipated. Believe me, I listened to the entire disc but no redemption materialized after “Vices.” I foolishly still held hope for the final song, “The End,” hoping for something similar to Anberlin
’s brilliant “(*Fin).” But alas, it didn’t hold the same magic. So to me, it seems Silverstein have hit their stride. It’s mildly sad, but no tragedy.