Review Summary: Spectacularly uninteresting.
Seemingly to explain the inherent blandness of Vagabonds
, The Classic Crime vocalist Matt MacDonald said the following: ”I’m obsessed with simple songs - songs that don’t change a lot musically but you can feel the dynamics in the melody and rhythm when you listen.”
This statement, at the very least, explains why The Classic Crime have mistaken lazy composition for good songwriting but it unfortunately does not excuse the incredibly boring collection of songs we now know as Vagabonds
. The problem with Vagabonds
, however, is not its ‘simplicity’, it’s the lack of charm and memorability. In the past, it’s been made more than obvious that the band is fully capable of writing fantastic, simplistic and even aggressive
songs within their pop-punk niche (see ‘Abracadavers’ or ‘God and Drugs’ of off The Silver Cord
) but for some undisclosed reason, The Classic Crime decided to omit said aggression and catchiness for Vagabonds
. As it seems, Matt MacDonald needs the difference between “simple songs” and “really ***ing boring songs” described to him in great detail before he and his band try and release another dishwater album.
Contradictorily enough, Vagabonds
ends up boasting the band’s best track yet in ‘Solar Powered Life’. Clocking in just over two minutes, the song bounces along in a classic rock shuffle that is immediately unlike anything the band has tried before, but instantly more memorable and catchy in its youthful naivety and its deliberately repetitive chorus hook: ”My, oh my, what a beautiful day outside!”
. Carrying on the tradition of tolerability, ‘The Happy Nihilist’ and ‘The Count’ are perhaps the only other two songs that are obvious winners. ‘The Count’ would sound completely at home on The Silver Cord
with its schizophrenic time signatures, tremolo guitar effects, and spectacular dynamic. The song balances spacey verses, rhythmic pre-choruses and soaring 5/4 choruses in vain of ‘I’m Just a Man’ without ever losing its zeal or over-welcoming its stay. ‘The Happy Nihilist’ is nearly as successful (despite having a terribly out-of-place prechorus in the first half of the song) with its Thrice/The Dear Hunter-esque introduction and its surprisingly daring instrumental work.
Beyond those three songs, unfortunately, there is little more to love or laud on Vagabonds
. MacDonald’s typically individualistic lyrics range from acceptably dramatic (”I made my bed in the liar’s den and walked in dead man’s shoes”
) to insipidly outlandish (”The beard on my face has gotten thicker to protect me from the storms that come my way
”) and it certainly doesn’t help that MacDonald has gotten into the habit of trying to cram way too many words into any given line in his songs. Somehow, his voice has gotten less and less interesting along the way as well - gone is the spectacular aggression shown on ‘Abracadavers’ and in its place has arrived the cheesy, polysyllabic Relient K-like blabbering that goes on during ‘Different Now’. It doesn’t help that the bands guitarists have adopted an even less remarkable playing style; fleshing up the sound of each and every song with monotonous power chords and the occasional, poorly done faux-solo.
The worst part of the entire ordeal is the fact that The Classic Crime have
, in the past, made awesome music. Casual experimentation amongst stunning vocal delivery and effectively simplistic composition decorated The Silver Cord
(and to a lesser extent, Albatross
) but the band’s recent infatuation with mundanity has caused them to create Vagabonds
. MacDonald and crew need to learn that they can’t tread the waters of mediocrity forever, as their own blandness could very well asphyxiate them and their listeners were they to release another album in vain of Vagabonds
. However, hope is not lost, as The Silver Cord
remains a beacon of potential in the band’s discography. We will be ready for your fourth album, The Classic Crime, and you bet your bottom dollar we’ll be expecting something better than Vagabonds