Review Summary: Solid, but mostly showcases the band's promise rather than their skill and talent.
What may be unfortunate to a listener of Wrestling Moves
, especially considering whether or not you’ve heard their promising EP, is that this debut full-length from these Indiana natives isn’t all that shocking of a statement. Native do skew their post-hardcore stylings with a healthy dose of progressive and math rock influences, but there’s nothing here that you couldn’t find similarly done on a Kidcrash or a These Arms Are Snakes album, among many others. Here, Native choose to be the influenced instead of attempting to be the influencers. But that doesn’t mean that this record isn’t fun as hell to listen to, or that Native isn’t staggeringly talented, and this is why Wrestling Moves
never falls into modern post-hardcore’s seemingly endless pool of monotony. This is a band that can run through gaping crescendos, blistering technicality, and numerous paces - key examples being the titular track and “Five Year Payoff” - and do it all with the effortlessness of a band that’s been at it for years. On songs like “Ponyboy” and “Legoland” is where they really shine, however. These tracks are progressive and ambitious, starting and stopping momentum at the turn of a fly, and lasting a few minutes longer than they should - but never becoming uninteresting.
Sure, originality is kept at bay throughout, and the heavy-handedness of “Marco Polo” and “Mason Jars” shows the band’s lack of subtlety, and is also the only time when Native’s inexperience becomes glaring. But these are really, really minor things in my book; no, my main gripe with Wrestling Moves
is mostly how banal and vanilla vocalist Bobby Markos sounds. Mind you, he’s not bad
, and his vocals never sounds insincere or forced. But they’re terribly forgettable, and they unbalance Native’s sound, all but forcing the listener to focus more on Native’s instrumental side just simply to stay entertained. And, despite how progressive Native can get, that's simply not enough, especially since how much the band particularly derives from obvious influences. Ultimately, ambition can get you a far way - but, as far as Native goes, it's not enough.