Review Summary: Heavy, Sludgy // Repetitive, Disjointed“I’ve never felt as empty as I do today”
screeches Reba Meyers at the very beginning of Code Orange Kids' debut album; Love Is Love // Return To Dust
. Sludgy guitars and bass riffs back Meyers vocals, whilst Jami Morgan lets loose behind his kit, reinforcing an already tight-knit sound. Morgan then adds in some screams of his own, crafting a similar sounding, albeit nicely contrasted vocal technique to Meyers before the song comes to a soft strumming conclusion. Album opener, ‘Flowermouth (The Leech)’ is a commendable piece of work from such a young band of musicians and an excellent first impression for a debut album.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn’t follow as a strong a suit. Most of the tracks are entirely forgettable, and due to their similar structure and short runtimes, one song tends to flow into another without any noticeable change in sound. ‘Around My Neck // On My Head’ bleeds into ‘Sleep (I’ve Been Slipping)’ so subtlety, that it begs the question of why they’re separated into two tracks at all. Moreover, the succinct runtime of fifty-seconds on ‘Roots Are Certain // Sky Is Empty’ means the track just flies by, without much chance for the listener to acknowledge its existence.
All the members are quite proficient with their instruments. Alongside Meyers, Eric Balderose both lead the way on guitars. Joe Goldman is quite audible on his bass and the previously mentioned work of Morgan strengthens their thick wall of sound. The problem is present not in their competency as musicians, but their songwriting abilities. Therein lies the main pitfall of the album; the heavy and sludgy sound that appears throughout the majority of the ten tracks, while initially quite appealing, soon grows stale, and the album spirals into a cacophony of repetition.
However, album centerpiece ‘Colors (Into Nothing)’ acts as a moments reprieve for the listener, breaking up the plethora of thick, monotonous guitar riffs and repetitive drumming. As impressive as Meyers vocals are, her range is extremely limited, making her lasting affect wear thin very quickly and despite the occasional appearance of both Morgan and Balderose thrown into the mix, the difference in vocals is very subtle, so the record both lacks variety as well as a sense of identity. It’s a shame really, as a greater difference in vocal abilities could have really brought a dynamic edge to the record.
Recorded by Kurt Ballou, most notable of Converge fame, the influence shines through on Love Is Love...
albeit in a less proficient manner than could be performed by Ballou himself. ‘Nothing (The Rat)’ is the most Converge inspired, with its chunky, short-lived riffs echoing throughout the close to three minute runtime. Unfortunately, because of this, it feels less like a band putting one of their main influences on a pedestal, and more like a cut-copy of said band, but performed decidedly inferior.
Love Is Love...
is a decent first effort for a full-length album, especially for musicians in their late teens, but they still have a long way to go when it comes to learning about songwriting. It is to be hoped that they can build on the strengths found in the aforementioned ‘Flowermouth (The Leech)’ and ‘Colors (Into Nothing)’ and write a record with a bit more depth and substance rather than a deceptively simple album, covered up with overconfident song titles.