Review Summary: Caught in the Cat's Cradle.
No matter how much I hate to admit it, this used to be my favorite band at a point. I think we all had that one band in our pre-teen years that we would constantly listen and sing along too. I can remember the time in my life when I thought Hinder was the coolest thing that ever happened to music, but as I aged, so did my intelligence. Bands like this are then substituted for more introspective talent, as I began to indulge myself into greater barriers of music. Though the underground scene of music was still a mystery to me at the time, I found comfort in this small time band. Whether it is the simple structure of each song, or the generic overtone of the vocals, there’s just such an enjoyable factor about INK’s music. I can hardly remember my thoughts on the album at the time, but what I can shamefully admit is that I still know the catchy lyrics by heart.
I can compare this to some people who grew up with The All-American Rejects. The music presented on each album was generic and bland, but catchy. So the kids enjoyed the hell out of Move Along, and would buy the album just to figure out that the other songs lacked any intelligence or detail. Last Chance to Make Amends isn’t exactly like this, but I do feel some songs suffocate when trying to breath out good material. Short chokes of ruckus are clearly pronounced on the album, including some harmonies that do little to the imagination. Other’s fluctuate rather well together, and form a unique gesture not most underground bands can pull off. The big question however is whether or not the good outweighs the bad, but what actually holds the album back to its full potential is creativity.
The intricacy of the instrumentals is stable enough to enjoy, as the drums are actually quite good. They don’t repeat very much throughout the album besides build ups, and they do keep the pace of the songs from stretching or declining. Guitars are simple and profound in creating stringed riffs that try to differentiate throughout the album, but get thrown back to follow the same basic patterns that most underground bands can afford. There are a few cringe worthy performances by the instruments, but overall are tolerable and don’t ruin the experience. The rest is led by Spencer Charnes and his vocal abilities that weren’t really profound at the time. He has grown to become more adept to a clean and harsh vocal tradeoff, but his clean vocals here feel rushed and one dimensional. His screams aren’t really portrayed greatly on this album either, as they are only used on about 5% of the record. My biggest complaint about the vocals however, is the extensive amount of “whoas” and group chants. They make no sense, and leave me shaking my head with each generic use in the chorus’s music. There are times that the vocals due sway me into a wayside, as I do find the lyrics interesting and full of symbolic lines. All the performances combining into one solid unit form an emotional pop punk band that does little to sound different. The influence of Vonnegut is clearly evident, as there are many satirical moments spread across the landscape of the album, but lust and ecstasy are heavy themes the album follow, so be prepared for some whiny and pretentious lines.
Two of the three fillers are rather pointless, and make the listener question if the band tried playing dead pan serious with these. They make it seem like the band wants you to ask them what it means, but lacks the given decenses to answer back. The third filler titled “Chapter Two” is filler done completely right. The piano ballet directs its attention towards the lyrics, as Charnes sings in a stream of conscious-like way. The lyrics play off of each other as a run-on sentence, and it is done brilliantly with a thick layer of atmosphere surrounding the well written lyrics. The ending word leads to the start of a new sentence, and the song closes off with a soft and mellow piano loop.
I can say I lost a lot of lust for this album as time has passed. In my youth, I would’ve shot anyone who would give this under a four. Growing up changes everything, and music is something that becomes a habit of change. Listening to so much music, I began to realize that there was much better stuff out there. Listening to this after such a long time has led me down a path of nostalgia, but I can’t hear the same music I used to. It’s a good attempt at standing out of a crowd in a city street, but Last Chance to Make Amends fails to create its own unique color for the band. There are a few tracks that stand out among the rest, (Last Words and Chapter Two) but the rest seems to fall flat on its face. The charm this originally had on me is gone, and I see it only as an average attempt at creating a fluent album.