Review Summary: Green turns to red, then turns to gold, And the summer air, it grows so cold.
Throughout the past few years they have been active, Departures have proven to be one of hardcore's most promising acts. Their debut EP Escaping
showed much potential, and that potential was expanded upon and fully realized with their debut LP When Losing Everything Is Everything You Wanted
. For a debut album, it was absolutely fantastic, and their style of hardcore which mixed the beautiful with the aggressive was truly well done. Now, just over a year since their debut, the band has returned with their sophomore album Teenage Haze
, which shows them remaining as consistent as ever.
One of the highlights of Departures' sound lies in their perfect mixture of beautiful guitar riffs, a near perfect rhythm section, and vocalist James McKean's tortured yells. As with their debut, Teenage Haze
continues this perfect mixture across its nine tracks. From the shimmering opening guitar riff of "Drained Out" to the ending of "Small Steps", this is Departures playing to their strengths with every turn. Tracks like "Making Maps", "Where Will The Time Go", and album highlight "Those Miles Meant Everything" are all perfect examples of why they are one of hardcore's best acts. Around the halfway point through the album, "The Home Stretch" and the title track explore new aspects of the bands sound with the former being a slow burning, mid tempo hardcore track and the latter being a beautiful instrumental piece. Although these aspects are really nothing new and have been done by numerous other acts, it shows the band experimenting a little with their sound and one can only hope that they continue to expand upon such things on later efforts.
Given that it has so much going for it as their sophomore album, Teenage Haze
is also not without its faults. Its an excellent album, but the fact remains that nothing here is as memorable as their debut. Nothing quite hits as hard as the ending to "Midnight Lights", nor does it end perfectly as "Over the Edge" ended When Losing Everythingâ€¦
, opting for a rather abrupt ending on "Small Steps". The production isn't as strong and forceful as before, although more emphasis was placed on McKean's vocals than before. Drummer Alistair Morrison also falls short in his performance here, with his drumming not being nearly as spastic or unpredictable as on the debut, but these are all little things that can be forgiven once you sit down and listen to the record all the way through. Clearly the band wanted to try something a little different here, and for all intents and purposes they succeed in creating a solid second album.
Departures have always been a band that has mixed beautiful music with the depressing lyrical content of McKean. Although his lyrical content is dark, his vocal delivery presents him as an anguished man fighting to find hope in a darkened situation with a huge conviction in his voice. On "21", one of the best songs on the album, he sings I keep trying to say goodbye/I can't find the words/For what it's now worth/I wish I'd never met you
. Its gut wrenching, but the intensity of the song and the way its delivered sound almost like there is hope to be found for him. Its this contrast that makes their music so interesting to listen to, and its why Teenage Haze
is another successful outing by a band that proves once again they are at the top of their game. Teenage Haze
is the sound of a maturing Departures, a band that isnt afraid to show its many influences, and it is a sign of good things to come.