Review Summary: "...I close my eyes and feel my body slip from me..."
While the debate between those who have now been shifted into the spotlight of mainstream acceptance – I'm looking at you Mr. Weiss! – and the online rags that spout that emo/screamo is undergoing some sort of new Renaissance continues to rage on message boards and the Tumblr blogs of those just old enough to peer beyond their rosy Warped Tour tinted glasses, one thing is for certain. Even if the claims of a revival are just as meaningless as whoever the hell the front man is going to be on the next Dance Gavin Dance record, the DIY scene certainly is witnessing an unprecedented boom. The reasons are numerous; kids on the quest for something emotionally valid after years of letting Rise Records ruin their first foray into post-hardcore, or maybe it's that being “sad” is now the latest buzz on social networking. Hell, for all I know the entire collective consciousness of white, middle income high school seniors nationwide stumbled through a quantum paradox and emerged on another plane where Mike Kinsella is actually considered cool. The fu
ck if I know exactly, but here we are and it's happened. This boom is both the greatest and worst thing to ever happen to the genre. On one hand, for the first time ever bands that were once stuck in the niche environment of their local music scene are now able to not only try to gain a national foothold, but if they're lucky they might find someone to press their recordings or for once see a couple bucks left over at the end of their tours. On the other hand, the reason that the genre has garnered so many fresh converts – the emotional attachment and empathetic connection in both music and lyrics – has become nothing but a played out gimmick used by every kid with a Fender amp and a friend who can wail vaguely sympathetic off key platitudes under a kitschy sports themed moniker. It's trite.
All my gripes considered, it would make perfect sense if the next couple of paragraphs of this review were nothing but me slagging No Sleep's up-and-comers State Faults, as it is from this same scene that they were born. After all, this is the same label that made La Dispute the self loathing break up jams for a generation in much the same way that those of us in our late twenties mistakenly idolize Glassjaw's Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence
as something more than a record that makes you feel worse for every rotation it makes around the stylus. But I am not going to. In fact, State Faults' Resonate/Desperate
is the full realization of everything that the emo/screamo scene has pronounced itself to be since it was transformed by “The Wave”. It is passionate, it is honest, and most importantly it doesn't play off of the same old, regurgitated ideas that make so many young bands at the moment sound like nothing more than C-rate cover versions of To The Beat of A Dead Horse
and A Dead Sinking Story
. Yes, those influences are obviously here– this is a post-hardcore album in the twenty-teens – that is inescapable, but they are only present to be reworked and fleshed out even further, transforming them into a sound that is uniquely their own. Even when they stretch further back into their record collections for ideas, be it the mewithoutYou-esque rhythmic pacing of “Wildfires”, the metallic harmonies of “Stalagmites”, or the subdued The Cure-isms of “Spectral”, State Faults use their influences not as a crutch but as a starting point to build outwards upon, proving that inspiration doesn't have to be a synonym for derivation. It is beyond refreshing that State Faults are intent on pushing emo/screamo into new directions, especially considering that so many bands try so earnestly, and to their detriment, to sound like they are stuck in 1997.
Further adding to the quality of the record, State Faults recruited Sunbather
sonic architect Jack Shirley to man the knobs for Resonate/Desperate
. Once again, the man shows just how much of a master he is behind the control center in the studio. Where past State Faults recordings were brought to a fever pitch by the almost uncontrollable level of treble boosting out of the speakers, Resonate/Desperate
is made perfect in its wonderful sense of auditory balance. The guitar tones are shimmering and vibrant but without the piercing high end that obfuscated their clarity on Desolate Peaks
. Further more, the now expanded use of modulation effects on both the leads and the rhythm tracks adds a new found level of depth to their sound and puts an added punch into the back and forth interplay of the delay soaked leads. That's not to say that State Faults have shifted in their tonal spectrum. Shirley's production job still manages to keep the overall tone and immediacy of their prior work, albeit in a much more refined and tolerable fashion. The biggest change this brings to State Faults' sound is vocally. Jonny Andrew has never sounded this good behind the mic. Where the production values on Desolate Peaks
brought out some of the harsher qualities in his high pitched screams, here on Resonate/Desperate
he sounds as he does naturally (all one has to do is check the Toxicbreed's Funhouse session to hear what Desolate Peaks
had the potential to sound like when heard through a more organic take on production). Even the low end has a renewed sense of presence as the bass is now given more space in the mix and the percussion now resonates with each skillful hit, creating a magnificent groove throughout the whole of the album.
State Faults are a much needed breath of fresh air. Not only is Resonate/Desperate
a welcome reminder that emotion is not a commodity to be exploited and sold as the next up and coming trend, it is a stunning example of forward thinking expression in a landscape hopelessly stuck in the past.