Review Summary: I feel like I get smaller every year
The holiday season has suddenly turned into a season of material discontent and greed. We spend hours upon hours fascinated and frustrated about what gifts to give each other and what gifts we should give ourselves. But I always thought the biggest gift of the holiday season was the simple gift of comfort. The comfort that is found in knowing people are "there for you," the comfort found in knowing that people might actually care for you, the comfort found in knowing people want to make memories with you, and the comfort that is found with whatever we assume the true meaning of the Holiday season is. This kind of comfort has always been the most precious part of the season for me.
During the Holiday season I have always wanted music that gives me this comfort as well. The only problem is that I have always kind of despised the cookie cutter mainstream nature of Christmas music. It is far too cliche, far too rehearsed, far too hypocritical, and far too mainstream for my comfort. So I have always tried to find holiday comfort in music that really is not supposed to be holiday music. Music that gives me feel like I am at home with one riff, music that makes me feel relaxed in at ease with every passing song, music that makes me feel like I am making memories while just sitting down and listening to one playlist, and music that makes me feel like I am involved in something special. The problem is that in today's music scene of dub stepping, auto tuning, and making it rain this music seems to be as rare as actual Texas rain. Can comfort music actually exist in a technologically driven world?
Modus Aurora proved to me that comfort music can actually exist in 2011. It does not have the pounding beats of Watch The Throne, the heavy guitar riffs of a band like Opeth, the symbolism of Bon Iver, or even the sexy feel of Strange Mercy. It is not an iPhone, a Kindle Fire, a XBOX 360, or even a chocolae wedding ring from Jared. Modus Aurora is the gift of comfort. It is not flashy but it is consistent, it is not overproduced but it is genuine, its not rich but it is rich in spirit, and it is not wrapped up in the nicest of paper but its gift is always in the air. Modus Aurora are able to give you that "comfort of home" feel through their lyrics, their instrumentation, and the quality of songs on the EP.
The first thing I noticed about Modus Aurora is how honest their lyrics were. The lyrics combine the honesty of The Dangerous Summer with the creativity and symbolism of a band like Paramore. The lyrics are not cliche but are still easy to relate to, they are not overemotional but are still heartfelt, and they are not always memorable but they always seem to be comforting. Modus Aurora's most depressing lyrics make you feel like you are crying over a lost family member, their most creative lyrics make you feel like you are joking around the campfire with your closest friends and family, and their happiest lyrics make you feel like you are sharing a long hug with a family member who you have not seen in the longest time. The blunt and metaphorical nature of the lyrics make me feel comfort of care, the comfort of family, and the comfort of knowing that I am about to make new memories. This comfort is something that I could never find in songs about Grandma's getting run over by reindeer's or silent nights. The lyrics on Modus Aurora are one of the three things that give the album that "comfort of home" feel.
The albums "comfort of home" feel is also found in its most glaring weaknesses of underproduction and instrumentation. Even though the record lacks solid production and the instrumentation is inconsistent this just adds to the albums "comfort of home" feel. The underproduction makes the album sound like a glorified version of your neighbrohoods best garage band (almost like a softer version of Japandroids,) the lack of "proper instrumenation" makes the album more interesting and more genuine, and the at times forced vocals comfort you because you know that some bands are still trying to make honest music. As Modus Aurora grow into a pretty big band their music is probably going to have the right production, they will fix up their instrumental laspes, and every note will end up sounding perfect. They will probably end up making excellent records for some sort of big time record company and the "flaws" of this EP will end up being as distant of a memory as last Christmas. But it needs to be said that even the flaws of Modus Aurora end up being strengths as they end up giving us more of that "down to earth" and "comfort of earth" feeling that we so long for.
It also helps that four out of the seven songs on this album are pretty darn good. "Sightseers" is a great opener that kind of reminds me of a more genuine version of "The Only Exception,"Ride It Out" is a great rock anthem, "A Call To Hold Out" shows off the bands natural talents, and "Winter Song" is actually intended to be the perfect song for the holiday season. Through their lyrics, production, and high quality of songs Modus Aurora create a very comforting album.
2011 has provided us with a lot of material musical gifts. We have had the America defining sounds of Kaputt, the overproduced chest bumping of Watch The Throne, the summery sounds of Yellowcard, the peaceful sounds of Bon Iver, Bon Iver, and the sexy sounds of Strange Mercy. These albums have been our iPhones, our Kindles, our 3D televisions, and our box sets of Community. All of these albums and artists are great and are clearly better than Modus Aurora but they just are missing something that this album has. This is the ultimate comfort album for me. It is a hug from my fat Aunt, a high five after a "that's what she said!" joke, a sad heart to heart with a cousin, and the simple act of passing the gravy. It creates a sound that reminds me that even in the most hectic of seasons that everything is going to be okay. That might not make this a top 100 album but it makes it pretty damn important. And while comfort might not be as exciting as an expensive gift it seems important to realize that it is still there.