Review Summary: Always and Forever is a decent album from a band who promised much more than they can deliver. It isn't Lover's Requiem pt II, nor are the band even I Am Ghost pt II, and at the albums best, it can't reach Lover's Requiem's worst.
I Am Ghost were a favorite band of mine, specifically their album Lover's Requiem. That album, back in high school, was absolutely perfect to me. The dual vocalists, addition of violin, and dark lyrics telling of an almost theatrical story sealed the deal for Lover's Requiem to be among my top albums. And although half of the band had left after that album, and their follow up Those We Leave Behind left much to be desired, I always had hoped that the band would regain their previous momentum and release a true follow up to Lover's Requiem.
In 2010, after the bands break up, singer Steven Juliano announced the formation of his new band, Requiem for the Dead, as well as their debut album being a sequel of sorts to Lover's Requiem. And in the months that followed that announcement, more info trickled down about various new band members and album information, as well as a song (The Terrible Tale of Two), which painted a very optimistic picture of what's to come. Sadly, the album fell short.
Always and Forever starts off with an intro track, which slowly builds while hearing Juliano talking talking about "...the future being a painful climb..." with "da-da-da's" in the background. A track or two later, we're on the album's first single, "The Death Note of Shipwrecks", which is an odd track out on this album. While Juliano gained criticism on his vocal performance on I Am Ghost's last album, it seems he took his performance on this track a different direction. Though he's rid of the nasally singing that plagued Those We Leave Behind, here it seems that he didn't even warm up to try to sound good, as he sounds absolutely flat.
The next three tracks, "Blonde to Red", "I'm No Angel", and "Always and Forever", are forgettable, if catchy, filler tracks. All three feature the worst use of electronics/programming on the album, none of which actually fit in with the song. The title track of the album, "Always and Forever", seems rather disjointed. While the verses are quiet and contain only Juliano and the electronic bass, the chorus seems to "explode" with the band coming in, but it doesn't seem like a natural transition.
After an interlude of a child saying "Ring Around the Rosie", the album picks up with its strongest songs, sans "All That I Wanted", which is filler more akin to "Blonde to Red" and "I'm No Angel". "Misadventures of Coffin Kid" are more akin to the faster tracks off Those We Leave Behind, and is a welcome listen on the album.
The album finishes off on a high note, with the "The Terrible Tale of Two". This was the first song the band had released, back before the female singers were kicked out, and is the only song on this album to have any semblance of Lover's Requiem. While it's poppier than anything from Lover's Requiem, the dual harmonies between Juliano and the female singer hearkens back to those better times.
And it's with this song that the fundamental problems of Always and Forever are truly shown. Musically, this album bears no resemblance to the ones of Juliano's past. Even lyrically, this album seems to have nothing to do with the story presented on Lover's Requiem. And while a few songs (Terrible Tale of Two, and Those Lovely Shark People) have throwbacks to Lover's Requiem, whether it be loosely in style or lyric, this album is still no Lover's Requiem. And while this doesn't sound like that big of a deal, it wouldn't be had the band not explicitly said that it would be a follow up since the bands incarnation, and stuck to this story up until the albums release. Hell, even the news of the female vocalists departure weren't announced until after the albums release, and only when enough people had questioned the band about the lack of their vocals on their Facebook.
All in all, Always and Forever is a decent album from a band who promised much more than they can deliver. It isn't Lover's Requiem pt II, nor are the band even I Am Ghost pt II, and at the albums best, it can't reach Lover's Requiem's worst.