Review Summary: Kill Hannah opts for a grittier approach to their synth-laden brand of alt. rock that ultimately fails to live up to the potential shown on previous albums.
Most bands are going to play with their sound at some point in their career, it’s almost inevitable. Occasionally this desire to evolve will lead to something great and unique (or at least better), but not usually. Typically, the result of a band’s experimentation will be a mess of poorly executed ideas forced into a vague semblance of their previous musical formula – this is Wake Up the Sleepers
in a nutshell. The band have taken their synth-laden alternative rock and tried to force it into a darker, grittier package that also (inexplicably) has them adding an electro/dance element as well. The end result is an album that, overall, fails at delivering the catchy melodies and memorable choruses of the past and also fails at integrating the new elements in any worthwhile manner.
The album begins well enough with opening tune, “Radio”, which largely sticks to the band’s previous formula of strong choruses and inventive synth melodies over an alt. rock backdrop, albeit with a grungier guitar tone, but after that things mostly go downhill. The problem with the band attempting a heavier, darker album is that it has sucked all the life out of most of their songs. Despite the tempos, they simply feel lethargic and unremarkable due to the drop in quality choruses and upbeat melodies. Also buried within this album are tracks that take on an electro/dance element that work even less than the band’s newfound grunge styling. This dance component has a tendency to cause the songs to sound cheap and lo-fi when used on its own, and like a metrosexual Orgy
when more fully integrated (check out “New York City Speed” for proof). The album’s one bright spot is the song “Mouth to Mouth” due to it being the only track to truly integrate all of the band’s ideas into one entertaining package. The dance beat is energetic and creative, the riffs manage to be gritty and memorable at the same time, the guitar solo is outstanding and it features one of the only really catchy vocal performances on the album.
For dedicated fans there is probably enough for them to proclaim this another homerun for the band, but for more discretionary listeners this will ultimately be a disappointment. Despite the fact that this album is still easily recognizable as a Kill Hannah release, the changes that have taken place haven’t been for the better. The grittier guitar tone has edged out most of the strong melodies and the darker vibe has sucked the life from the songs – and the role of the electro/dance elements is still up in the air due to the lack of integration into the band’s overall sound. The album’s one shining moment, “Mouth to Mouth”, should still gives fans hope but at this time the band are at a point where they aren’t using any of their strengths or influences very well.