Review Summary: Devoid of incision, perspective and charm; a tedious journey through the most travelled images of emotional despair, compounded by a nagging sense of artifice.
As anyone who's been there will know, the feelings involved with fading and dead relationships are at the best of times a delicate thing, and alleviating them even moreso. Incredibly, though, music occasionally circumnavigates and transcends the difficult and awkward task of consoling a broken man by putting empathy to record, shaping a shadow of the listener for them to step towards or away from, whichever direction proves most healing. Whatever their effect, these albums are cleansing, acting as a starting point for the fixing process. They're important. There is ample room in music for such displays of overwrought and melodramatic sentiment. Most of them don't involve turning 'ever' into a four-syllable word.
Because music that's meant to reflect and identify should be instinctive and human and The First Days of Spring
, as its title betrays, is neither of those things; it is an album which knows what a break-up song should sound like and which replicates that formula far, far too perfectly to be taken seriously. "This is a song for anyone with a broken heart,"
Charlie Fink kindly informs us on 'Blue Skies' (a metaphor for brighter days, in case that particular cliché has escaped you thus far) but heaven knows why he feels the need to say so - you'd have to be a moron to expect anything else by that point.
Yeah, dig out your air violin and start practicing those tremolos, because the chances are you'll be looking for something to occupy you by about halfway through second track 'Our Window.' Poignancy is a tough mood to capture but even more evasive when you're as voiceless and pointless a lyricist as Fink. Even leaving aside his conversational, droning vocal approach, the lyrical tone and content of The First Days of Spring
is nothing short of atrocious; as our own Keelan Harkin said, "I remember my first time writing lyrics too."
Almost every line is a combination of horrible platitudes, uncomfortable rhymes and hackeneyed metaphors, not structured in any intriguing manner and with no affecting context to elevate their significance. For an album so explicitly focussed on a lyricist at the expense of anything resembling melody, energy or musical creativity, it's disastrous.
So all that's left to salvage The First Days of Spring
from the scrap heap of unnecessary and unwanted faux-emotional clutter is its deliberately tender guitars and gentle ambience, a gimmick which effectively surrenders the record to those depths in the light of its lyrical impotence. The only track here with any kind of urgency is 'Love of an Orchestra,' and it's the best track for that reason alone, even in spite of its cringeworthy choral bursts; the rest of The First Days of Spring
is a tepid, contrived and banal affair, the odd arbitrary quirk here and there, and a whole lot of uninspired songwriting. If you've recently gone through a tough time, this will probably only make it worse.
Well, I have nothing
I have no one
I've been so quickly set free
and I love nothing
I love no one
Are words that you whisper in my mind, to someone
I don't know
to someone I don't know