Review Summary: A return of Blue, but on a happy note. Justin's vocals and Ryan's violin help bring together an album and new beginning.
As fall approaches, quietly rises a solid album release from Blue October. Although far from the "blue" tones you'd expect from these guys, "Sway" never strays too far from the band's known formulas and smart arrangements. Some interesting experimention comes to play but I was reminded of the ground at times. Most importantly, the album sharply displays Justin's reborn attitude on life.
It starts off with the haunting and whistling intro, "Breathe, It's Over". It's a niice way to start, very thought provoking and exhales optimism of what's to come. Next, smoothly comes in the title track "Sway". It makes you wanna' do just that, sway away with it's early catchy bounces and then savor the late sound settling in place. With a carefree and bubbly tone, very easily the most laid-back track of the album. - THUMP! - We hit reality bumps with "Angels In Everything" and "Bleed Out", they play next. Both very catchy and radio-friendly but don't stand out too much from the rest of the album. The former seems to have issue towards the end, dragging on a bit. It's worth noting, the latter features a swell tremoring bassline. That said, they both have their distinction and great set of vocals but just don't hit that high note the other songs here do.
Then we got "Debris" - What starts off simple enough, gets a niice instrumental and vocal crescendo going that reaches a high-climax sound of perfection. Despite it's somewhat vague lyrics, it's difficult not to be pulled in to it's climb. "Fear" comes and so does that reminder of our own demons, only brought out by Justin's great vocal delivery.. if that makes any sense. Press in some great piano arrangements and worldless harmonies, and you have a very heartfelt ballad.
The soft and mellow, "Things We Don't Know About", sneaks in right before the hard rockers of the album, "Hard Candy" and "Put It In". While at times very rehearsed and contained, these two rocks provide enough angled arrangements and sharp hooks to keep from being soft or going stale. Ironic to it's lyrics, "I used to dress like a hooker / but never seemed to hook anyone
", I found "Hard Candy" to be very fun and the "edgier" one of the two.
"Light You Up" shifts from a somber ghost hip-hop arrangement to an electric stutter anthem. I'm still not sure what it's about.. accusations of depressive and alcohol abuse tendencies or one's bout with one's own voices internally.. both seem probable and bittersweet fitting. "Things We Do At Night" is about things you probably could guess, but it's all just a distraction for a tomorrow. Jumpy drum arrangements accompany Justin's shout staduim vocals. A simple song sure to infect crowds with energy at concerts.
It comes to a near end and beginning with "Not Broken Anymore". Very reminiscent to the band's Foiled
album's quiet ender "18th Floor Balcony", except with a bleak pitch. A stripped down, simple arrangement with powerful vocals shouting a farewell to one's past self, leading to hope of the listener that sanity is imaginable. Then, causing a calm.. pulsating and piercing sound, comes the smooth "To Be" to end it all. With Ryan's perfect and soothing violin, reminding one that, sometimes, you can say more with no words.
And that's it.. heart tugging with a uplifting lasting impression. Accordingly, like any other Blue October release, this thing gets attentional rotation on my part. Motivationally heavy enough to make me drop and want to write about it.. I suppose I'll leave it at that.
"Light You Up"
"Not Broken Anymore" / "To Be"