Review Summary: Through the Glass with some new songs tossed in that just wear this album down.
Like their American contemporaries Imagine Dragons, the Australian indie group Atlas Genius released a decent EP back in 2012. It was Through the Glass
, and contained the band's biggest hit, the top-5 charting "Trojans". Riding on the wave of their success, they decided to take all of the songs from their EP, add some new songs they had thrown together, and make an album titled When It Was Now
. And frankly, it should come as a surprise to no one that the album is a complete waste of potential. I bring up Imagine Dragons because they did the exact same thing with Continued Silence
, only to squander their talents on the inconsistent and bland Night Visions
Like Imagine Dragons, Atlas Genius know how to kick off an album on a good note. "Electric" opens When It Was Now
with its bursting guitars and pounding drums, and lead singer Keith Jeffery actually shows off some of his vocal talents, while "Backseat" and its pounding beats create a funky mood that really isn't seen anywhere else on the album. But as soon as the album starts to pick up steam, its new songs wear it right back down. Songs like "On a Day" or "All These Girls" are incredibly stale, offering not much other than some recycled electro-influenced beats and synthy hooks. At times it even seems as if Atlas Genius are ripping off themselves, with the title track doing nothing but copying "Trojans"' synth line and clap-filled chorus.
As expected, the album's best songs are the ones released on Through the Glass
. "Trojans" and its infectious guitar riffs are a prime example of why When It Was Now
could have been so much more than it was; it's got a catchy hook, passionate vocals and nice riffs, and that's all was I expecting from Atlas Genius. I wasn't looking for a masterpiece, but I expected the album to at least have some memorable hooks and riffs. "If So" does that pretty well, even if it's a little repetitive. Luckily, it makes up for it with its nice instrumental work, which is sure to get stuck in your head. Even with all these highlights, the title of best song on the album clearly goes to the closing track, "Symptoms". With its addictive guitar riff, excellent drumming and spectacular vocals, "Symptoms" is the track that will forever be my standard for Atlas Genius. It's a got a great, anthemic chorus, a nice solo in the middle of the song and as a closer, ends the album perfectly.
But ending the album perfectly just doesn't cut it. These guys can do so
much better, as shown in previous releases. Marred by a number of bland hooks, repetitiveness and stealing their own ideas, When It Was Now
could have been a better album if the band just took more time and thought into recording these songs. It's a recurring trend in modern indie music; as soon as a band gets a successful single, they just lazily record ten other songs, slap the hit onto it, and boom, there's your album. It's happened to Fitz, it's happened to Capital Cities, and now it's happened to Atlas Genius. These guys are great musicians, there's no doubting that. You just won't see much of it here.