Review Summary: Painfully dull and hopelessly straight-forward, Isles and Glaciers is yet another "supergroup" where the sum does not equal the parts.
Back in 2008, fans of post-hardcore got a little treat when the formation of Isles & Glaciers was announced, notably because the band would be fronted by the vocal efforts of both Craig Owens and Johnny Craig. These guys, alongside some key members of Pierce the Veil and others rounding out the mix, absolutely had the talent to produce a remarkable effort, and thus the hype started to build. After much anticipation and delay, their debut EP, The Hearts Of Lonely People
, has finally been released. Did this post-hardcore supergroup live up to its potential?
It’s understandable that all the hype of this group can be focused squarely on the vocals, since Craig Owens and Johnny Craig are some of the two, if not the
two, best voices of the genre (and Vic Fuentes, who offers back-up vocals, isn’t too shabby either). But while the vocals are absolutely a highlight and unquestionably the best thing about these songs, the downfall of this EP lies squarely on the shoulders of the music: outside of the vocals, The Hearts Of Lonely People
largely has no point, simply because the music on this EP takes a backseat and rarely makes any attempt to be interesting. “Hills Likes White Elephants” brilliantly showcases the band’s fatal flaw, as the song only has the vocal hooks to keep it afloat while the music irrelevantly wanders back and forth between guitars, electronic drums and strings. Great vocals can be a big boost for a band, but it absolutely cannot save music that’s as bland and unimaginative as this.
But as great as the vocals are, that's not to say that they are absolutely flawless. The chorus vocal hook in “Clush”, introduced at 1:15 into the song, helplessly reminds me of the chorus vocal hook to Jordin Sparks’s “Tattoo”, which gives the song a real amateur feel. Both “Empty Sighs and Wine” and “Viola Lion” have above-average choruses, but the songs really lack in the verses with half-hearted performances. Really, “Cemetery Weather” is the only time the vocals get to shine on the entire EP, since it’s more of a ballad and has the atmosphere to let the vocals carry the mood, and they do a great job in doing so. The song itself, however, loses momentum in the last three minutes when the vocals drop out in favour of the continuous churning of electronics and a half-assed whammy pedal guitar line that nonchalantly closes out the song. It seems that whenever the vocals step up to the occasion on this EP, all the music does is drag them down considerably.
But the most annoying thing about The Hearts Of Lonely People
is not the boring music, rather it’s the existence of electronic drums and noises alongside the actual
drums: this EP is absolutely soaked in glitchy flutterings and pops, creating such a convoluted, erratic soundscape that it just comes off as irritating more often than not. It’s such a needless addition that it just begs the question of why it was included in the first place. The spastic beats add absolutely nothing to the music, and the exaggeration of the electronics really is the element that pushes the whole thing off the brink.
In the end, The Hearts Of Lonely People
only really testifies to the talents of the two lead singers; Craig Owens and Johnny Craig could sing over someone head butting a broken guitar and still manage to make it sound half-decent, and honestly, this EP isn't too far away from that scenario. Strong vocals accompanied by weak, flavourless music can only get you so far, and the only thing that Isles & Glaciers accomplishes is showing that a good vocalist isn’t the only thing you need to make a successful effort.