Review Summary: Dark, biting and emotional, a punk record that missed the faux-emo craze by 12 months and snuck unfairly under the radar.
I think I'd be lying if I said I don't enjoy this.
It Won't Snow Where You're Going is the kind of album that lends itself to solitary listeners, and it's kind of a good job; it's hardly the type of music that you'd play as you drove her home from your first date, however confident you were of your musical inclinations. A quick glance down the track listing suggests why this might be the case; Gasoline Kisses, Your Latest Victim and Which Wrist First indicate the approach that Park take to their pop-punk, and it's one which superbly melds violent, emotional songwriting with a vicious, heavy and technically impressive display of musicianship. But on paper, It Won't Snow is just another foray into the type of music the mainstream casts aside as 'emo' and warns parents about. While it's certainly true that the distortion and darkness don't offer much in the way of happiness or resolution, Park's third full-length release is musically invigorating, passionate and enthralling.
Notable musical points of reference are Thursday, Armor For Sleep and Cauterize, but that reads more as a list of "If You Like"s as opposed to an accurate set of influences. The truth is that Park's sound isn't wholly original, but it's also tough to remember a convincingly executed version of the same downbeat, up-tempo aesthetic with as much kick and power of immersion as It Won't Snow; the post-hardcore riffs are heavy and suffocating, the drums are forceful and prominent, and vocalist Ladd Mitchell's narrow melodies are conistently captivating. It's also notable that It Won't Snow houses a reasonable amount of technical expertise, which comes to the surface in plenty of rapid-fire passages - Your Latest Victim, for example, which moves at breakneck speed throughout, momentous and dramatic as always.
Waking up, soaked in sweat, wondering who you're lying with.
And the drama never lets up; It Won't Snow does absolutely nothing by halves, even when it's playing at half the volume. Conversations With Emily is the only soft song present, a tender indie-rock ballad which plays host to heartbreak and resignation on their emptiest levels, dragging out the sentiment painfully to make it clear how much it hurts. Quiet and melancholy, it comes as something of a surprise that it's so well fashioned and reveals in full a depth that's otherwise slightly buried, but the fantastic thing about It Won't Snow is it doesn't feel out of place, it just proves that Park have their heads on right and know what they're doing. Furthermore, when you mix it with the heavy-as-f**k ending of Dear Sweet Impaler, it provides the necessary variety for this record not to get dull or one-track. While it's not a good idea to listen to It Won't Snow too frequently (it's hardly the feel-good record of 2003) there's nothing stopping you from a musical point of view. There are very few points where such dense, focussed musicianship becomes tedious, and that in itself is an achievement.
On the whole, It Won't Snow Where You're Going comes across as a host of lyrical changes of direction and quick-fire, scattered soundbites delivered beneath a wall of dark, distorted riffs. It's raw, rough, cutting and anxious, and at certain points its single-minded nature becomes mesmerizing - dizzying, even - to the point where you lose yourself. There's nothing wrong with that - everybody needs to get lost once in a while, and It Won't Snow is a mindset-altering record if nothing else. Angry, bitter and violent, it swings through tempos and intoxicating guitar lines like the best of them, but it's much stronger and more confident than you'd imagine. On paper, Park don't sound much better than good, but It Won't Snow isn't the kind of album that would give a f**k anyway.
But don't you find it reassuring; that one consolation growing?
My darling boy, it won't snow, where she is going.