Review Summary: ‘Requiem’ is The Getaway Plan making the stylistic change to straight-to-radio alt-rock. Sadly, the music itself falls short of any sort of poignancy or memorability.
The Getaway Plan have been building quite a rapport with Australian post-hardcore fans since their inception in 2004. There was ‘Hold Conversation’ an unrestrained, messy yet energetic EP which showed glimpses of a band yet to fully broaden their potential. The EP displayed some interesting musicianship and a versatile vocalist with an impressive falsetto, but it was the arrival of single ‘Where the City Meets the Sea’ and with it the semi-explosion of popularity that saw The Getaway Plan truly broaden their reach to a new audience. The single, along with the rest of ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’ was good turn towards a more mainstream alt rock sound, whilst still retaining the energy and post-hardcore edge of Hold Conversation. This new direction also found a softer aesthetic, which focused more on Wrights voice and ethereal textures. Requiem’ continues this trend, but to ill-effect.
Requiem kicks off well, with the opening two-punch of ‘The Reckoning’ and ‘Phantoms’ being great stadium rock songs. The band do well in orchestrating subtle textures underneath a simple yet effective piano lick on opener ‘The Reckoning.’ Vocalist Matthew Wright pulls out his best performance of the album; his voice cuts well over the music, and he uses his falsetto to a greater effect here. Following tracks ‘Phantoms’ and ‘Flying Colours’ follow in a similar suit as the opener, using big chorus’ and cutting guitar leads. As the album rolls on however, the quality in songwriting drops, and the album fails to get over the hurdle of too many similar sounding songs. The proximity of having ballad after ballad in tandem (for example 'Move Along' and 'February') doesn’t allow for much variation or dynamics. While the screams and the heavier riffs of 'Other Voices, Other Rooms' off-set the alt-rock tendencies in an interesting manner (a-la the screamed ending of ‘Streetlight’), Requiem excludes this quality altogether, with the focus solely on alt-rock. This approach leaves the songs sedated to the point of dis-interesting, the rhythm section disposed of in favour of choirs/keys/orchestras and amplifying the sound, and finally lacklustre and hackneyed songwriting on the whole. It only feels natural for a band to tone down the youthful tendencies to find a more refined, listener-friendly sound, that is of course, if it’s done tastefully. The sound here is the band amplifying the theatrical nature of their sound, whist writing nothing of any substance or poignancy.
Where the focus of Requiem is mostly of Wright’s voice, it’s the lines that he sings that truly bring about the downfall of the album. Themes of love and relationships return and find place on the overly ballad-like ‘Move Along’ and ‘February,' but a lot of the content here focuses more on abstract themes, that really only hold meaning to Wright himself. Lines like ‘I refused to be treated like your mother’ doesn’t allow for any room for the listener to cut in their own connotations on, and you get the feeling the line is there for the sake of rhyming with ‘brother.’ It appears lines like ‘you are the trees, making oxygen so I can breathe’ are meant to be heartfelt, but comes across as more theatrical and hollow. Lyrics elsewhere come across as extremely awkward and jarring, for example: ‘I have never lived, I have never loved, I have never known the truth. And my eyes are set on you.’ Even the attempted profoundness of ‘It doesn't matter where you are, when you look up at the stars,’ has me questioning whether it’s lifted straight from the lyrics of a bad pop act. It’s ambiguous; not because it’s cryptic, but because we’ve heard the same clichéd lines over and over again, over-simplified to the point they barely hold any poignancy to anyone but Wright.
Guitarist Clint Splattering does his best to come up with some infectious leads, such as the cutting guitar hook of ‘The Reckoning,' pulling out a solo for the rockier tunes, and the subtle picking for added texture found in a variety of songs. The problem here-in is that it struggles to carry the weight of the album sonically; whereas the other, rhythmic half of the band has all but disappeared amongst the choirs, keys and orchestral tendencies the songs tend to delve in. Drummer Aaron Barnett’s beats are simple, un-assuming, and do little to carry the already tepid pace of the songs. Bassist Dave Anderson also puts in an underwhelming effort, sticking to root-notes and never really experimenting with rhythms, dynamics, tones or even climbing up to higher registers of the bass-neck. It makes for some very hollow songwriting; apart from Wright and Splattering, there isn’t much to explore here musically, and the band have seemed to compensate with orchestras and choirs. These would have more of an effect had the songwriting been on par; yet they hang limply off some half-hearted played beats and Wright’s voice. If the orchestral stabs of 'S.T.A.R.S' are anything to go by, The Getaway Plan seems bent on amplifying the theatrical nature of the music, instead of a focus on the actual songwriting itself.
Requiem looks on paper as an album where The Getaway Plan redefines their sound, and the result being a more mature and interesting outing. The problem here-in is the band have gone the wrong way about it; yes, the production is better, the feel and textures are better, the sound is bigger and bolder, yet it’s all overlooked by the fact that, as musicians, the band themselves struggle with executing the alt-rock blueprint, specifically in conveying anything of purpose and/or interest. It’s sedated, tepid, underwhelming and even downright boring at times. Requiem serves to alienate fans of previous, more hardcore inclined releases, and the material here isn’t strong enough to win over the mainstream. What exactly were The Getaway Plan intending here?
I don't exactly agree with this review, I do find that a 2 or a 1.5 was/is an appropriate score for the album however, I found that it was due to two things, bland use of orchestration and choirs and the production.
The latter can easily be explained that I've been forced to listen to a lot of Nightwish around the time this album came out due to their new album coming out recentlyand my roommate being an obsessive fan, basically, I've heard better orchestration (too frequently.)
The production however, can't really hold accountable to David Bottrill, who as usual, did a fabulous job, except really that he befriended the band members and gave the band too freedom to screw around with, a band who are talented with their chosen instruments and not much else musically (or not given enough time to hone their skills.) I found the biggest problem in the horrendous tracklist choices, who decided on it did not have an ear for music or just didn't care.
However, I found that by fixing the tracklisting of the album, while not as good as Other Voices, Other Rooms is still a 4 rather than a 1.5. The Tracklist is actually quite versatile, so it's odd that they ended up with something so front heavy and generic.
The Tracklisting I chose and recommend at least one listen to is:
Child Of Light
Oceans Between Us
If you don't like how it sounds, fix it up to what sounds good to you, this album really is a group of good songs which are badly placed.
yeah I agree with you there, tracklisting is terrible, the album is defs top-heavy. but yeah I might give it another listen with the order you put it in.
I'm still pretty much in the minority when it comes to album however, where others love it, but to me it's such a chore to listen to, and such a letdown from previous efforts.
Still, I stand by the points I made in the review, specifically about the lyrics and the rhythmic half of the band lacking inspiration. Had no qualms with the production either, I thought it was great.