Review Summary: Imagine waking up naturally, without the aid of an alarm, well rested and fully aware, only to find out that it’s raining, and you’ve over slept.
Consisting of members from outfits such as Oceana, Of Machines, and VersaEmerge, Decoder isn’t quite a new super group, but rather, a ragtag collection of several misfits and dissidents, clamoring for their “new” and “fresh” identities. Arising from the loins of the above mentioned groups, Decoder have appeared, with sights set on “unheard of uniqueness“. Amiably ambitious, but so poorly misguided, their self titled debut ironically falls quicker than Icarus with his desirous wax wings.
To be curt, Decoder
is nothing special. Balancing somewhere between a refreshing post-hardcore venture and a tiring pop-punk affair, the album too often indulges in the most insipid aspects of the “scene” from whence it was born. It’s well done for sure, and the artists have their hearts and minds in the project 100%. However, Decoder
just doesn’t have enough going for it to be considered anything other than a novel little record.
The album falls somewhere between intensely likable and monotonously dull. It starts out promisingly enough, with “Dreamwalker” being a mixture of emotional intensity and provocative musicality. It’s sort of sounds like the amalgamation of an early Circa Survive song, Oceana, and some John Mess screams. It comes together really well, with the band feeling more like a cohesive unit than a group of separate entities. The clean singing of some oh-so-wounded
lyrics dual layered with the screaming actually works really well not only here, but on the entire album as well. The guitarists and drummers are nothing to write home about, but their contributions work incredibly well in the context of the music . However, aside from some flairs of excitement, Decoder
just never manages to capture the same feeling of the intro. It starts off so wonderfully but just fumbles and trips over its own feet, offering a bumpy, nine-song downhill slope. The songs end up bleeding together, with each average-length, average tempo track sort of feeling like a clone of the preceding one. Eventually, the entire product becomes a tick monotonous, with tracks like “The Giver” being the only things to keep the listener from becoming completely disinterested.
Aside from being a tad homogeneous, the issue with Decoder
is that it just doesn’t go far enough. It’s so close to being there
, but it feels like the band is perfectly content with never actually reaching wherever there
may be. It’s apparent that they are at least trying, with piano interludes and quiet/angry emotional dichotomies being used to ad nauseum. However, none of this is fresh or intriguing, nor is it deep, meaningful, or intellectual. It’s simply a regurgitation, a bastardization of the litany of post-hardcore tricks of the trade. They want so badly to be exceptional and groundbreaking, that they sort of refrain from actually letting themselves go, making it a little too safe, which in turn makes it a little too weak.
is the musical embodiment of a downward tailspin, it still manages to be an enjoyable piece of music. The adolescent exuberance is ripe, but Decoder
just doesn’t quite push the boundaries that their aspirations promised. The energy and excellence of “The Giver,” and the inspirational beauty of “Holding On” are representative of Decoder’s passions, but as a whole, their debut just doesn’t have enough gall to stand with the rest of their peers. It’s a nice start, but this band, as well of its members, are capable of so much more.