Review Summary: This had a lot of potential, and does a little to silence the naysayers about this band, but unfortunately they could not capitalize on their chances, and this really trails off after the first few songs.
Sleeping With Sirens are a pop-punk band that has come under a lot of flak in recent years. They are primarily popular among the "scene kid" community, meaning that their music is overly simplified so that they will not damage the few brain cells that these people who are 95% black hair and 5% face possess. Their sound primarily revolves around the tenor leggiero vocal range of Kellin Quinn and power chord-driven guitar work that thunders along quite fast, with the occasional moment of screaming on their earlier material. 2013 heralds the release of another studio album from this band, and an attempt to change the perspective of the band (that they are a one-dimensional band) into something a little different.
The opening vocal lines from Kellin Quinn on the title track should say all that needs to be said about this album. It is still focused around showing off Kellin's vocals, and it does a masterful job at keeping him at the forefront of nearly every section of every song. His voice is as high pitched as ever, and whilst some may say he is whiny or annoying, he actually puts his heart into this track. The moments of falsetto on Free Now show off how much he has progressed, but his entire performance on the Feel album is essentially his best shot at silencing his critics. Whilst his voice is one of the most often criticized factors of the band's sound, here he is the absolute best thing about the album. He pours a lot of emotion into Feel, with some incredible notes coming from his voice. The occasional moments of screaming are here again, although this time they are primarily kept to the background, but are a lot better performed than ever before, with emotion dripping from every screamed line here.
The aforementioned emotion that Kellin puts into his vocals here is really the one consistent thing about this album. Aside from Kellin, this really is a bumpy road of an album that is both good in places and bad in other places, and quite often this dichotomy is present within the songs themselves. Take Alone for instance. The opening segment of the song, involving Kellin shrieking his lungs out, is fantastic, as are the drum taps during the verse. The drumming is actually arguably the highlight of this song, but the guest performance from MGK and the guitar work could not be more ill-suited than to this track. Whilst neither are really anything awful, they definitely help to drag down this album's overall lasting impression. Moments like this are scattered all throughout the album. Low is ironically the lowest that this release stoops, with some stupidly frustrating instrumental work that does nothing but hold it back. The chorus is as generic it gets and whilst Kellin throws himself into it with his characteristic energy, it really isn't enough to salvage this release.
At times, this band also comes startlingly close to crossing the line into a pure pop-rock band instead of the pop-punk band they aspire to be with slight elements of post-hardcore found in a few tracks. The aforementioned Alone sounds like something that would have been heard on Radio Pop Rock three years back, whilst moments of songs such as Sorry really feel like this band is just trying to expand their fan base. This is not really a band that is loyal to their circle of fans, and instead attempts to throw as many different styles in the blender as they can to appeal to more people, but it does not really work here. The conflicting style is what holds this back from true excellence. The musicianship is tight enough usually, with the guitar work being the power-chord driven guitar lines that the band has always used with the occasional quicker riffs here and there, and a couple of slightly more metal-sounding ones, such as right at the end of the chorus to Low. The drum patterns are surprisingly creative, as the opening song shows off all the way through, and even the bass is audible. It is just that the songs feel too self-conflicted.
Overall, Sleeping With Sirens' latest album feels as though they are really attempting to branch out and meet a wider audience instead of remaining in the bracket of music that they are comfortable in. This experimentation works out with mixed results. The stronger moments of this album would include the first three or four songs, all of which are stellar and add a lot to this bands reputation. Unfortunately, however, it really trails off toward the end, making this one of the biggest disappointments so far this year.