In PIeces - Lions Write History
When first getting into bands like Thrice and Hopesfall I also checked out In Pieces' album Learning to Accept Silence
. My initial understanding of what they did was a less technical and less tight version of the aforementioned bands. Their flavor felt a little more generic because they used a mix of power chords and octaves as well as arpeggiated chords, and had that whole sing-scream thing down to catchy perfection. I guess I was initially disappointed that In Pieces wouldn't be chartering any new musical territory for me, which was especially important to me at that time in my life. I found them to be a solid but not amazing version of two amazing bands. I was wrong. I listened more and more and realized that In Pieces has just as much if not as much to love in their music as two of the more premier (and popular) post-hardcore bands. Their attractiveness is in their songwriting. I've been writing a lot of reviews recently that culture a huge respect for effective songwriting because I am growing weary of bands that can throw in absurd technicality. Ya technicality is great and all that, but I don't listen to Dillinger Escape Plan obsessively for weeks on end because it doesn't elicit that same emotional outpour that I get from bands like In Pieces. The emotional content of a band is directly correlated with how effectively they write songs.
The push and pull of different sections and instruments and how the song swells and breathes makes it more human, and in the end more substantial and lovable.
In Pieces' most recent album, Lions Write History
immaculately embodies that admirable humanity that exists in well written pieces of art. I haven't researched this album at all, but I'm going to assume that a ton of time went into pre-production to ensure that all of the songs were written perfectly. The main credit goes to the members of In Pieces but I will also assume that there is an awesome producer behind this album because every song is a fuc
king knock out punch. Also, I'm going to assume, considering the amazing detail given to the tone and effects of every moment on this album, and the superior mixing, that a lot of time and energy went into production as well. This album feels like a carefully crafted masterpiece that doesn't lose its human touch. Also, In Pieces receive mad respect for changing their style. Much like how Thrice and Hopesfall have become less dissonant and aggressive but have explored new textural and structural frontiers, In Pieces have laid off of the dry anger that permeated Learning to Accept Silence
in favor of a more subtle power that comes from contrasting their sparse arrangements with their heavier, climactic moments. The album sounds like a Vheissu
or an A-Types
but In Pieces exists in their own niche that I think fleshes out the post-hardcore genre. Thrice is the most overtly intellectual and has extended that to their approach to writing music. They love to mess with instrumentation and time signatures and anything else that intrigues them. Hopesfall similarly looks for oddball times and the like, but they always favored spaciness and long, brooding passages. In Pieces takes both of those approaches but then compresses those techniques into individually shorter sections that they vary with exciting rapidity. It's this variety of song structure, only hinted at in songs like "Icarus" by Hopesfall and "So Strange I Remember You" by Thrice, that makes In Pieces truly amazing. Sure, the verse-chorus-verse structure exists in many of these songs, there variety from phrase to phrase, verse to verse, and song to song.
I've been touting the songwriting of this band and I've ignored the instrumental ability of the band. They aren't shredding and tapping or busting out huge polyrhythms at obscene tempos, but they are throwing in some interesting riffs that layer is really successful ways to impress the listener. Take the beginning of "No Letter, No Note." The two guitars work together contrapuntally to produce a pretty catchy and tight opening section, without playing anything that is individually impressive or challenging. It reminds me of At the Drive-In's strategy to writing guitar parts. One would write something and the other would go out of his way to produce a different sound or texture. Also, the riffs remind me of Hot Cross in that I have heard very few of them before. Usually with bands in the post-hardcore, bands wear riffs heavily on their sleeves. In Pieces don't play that n00b game. I think my favorite part of the band's instrumentals is the effectiveness of the rhythm section. They seem to be a direct throw back to Frodus or No Knife (two of Riley, the Thrice's bassist's huge influences) without ripping either of those bands off. The bass is rather angular and often fills out the harmony with riffs and the drumming is just off kilter enough to be interested but never feels awkward. Also, In Pieces have the tendency to throw in their simple, heavy stop-start sections after their most challenging and awkward beats, which is a nice juxtaposition and keeps the songs paced well. The vocals are rather sensational too. The lyrical content doesn't matter so much to me as I'm incredibly picky about my poetry and care more about the lyrics suiting the songs rather than them being good on their own. So, on the song "Juarez, Mexico, Part II," when I hear the lines "There's no such thing / As dust and sand / Juarez, Mexico" at the climax of the song I feel that the combination of wistful lyrics and a wistful melody produces a strong music to text tie that allows more the strongest possible emotional response at that section. I find myself singing those two lines alone at various moments throughout the day. The "Mexico-oh-oo-ohhhh" is particularly strong and chilling.
Overall, this album is pretty immaculate. It has taken me about nine months to figure that out, but this album has pushed its way up into my Top 6 albums of all time, pushing Hot Cross' Cryonics
down to #7. I'd say the only negative point on the album is the ending, which completely rips off the choir background vocals to Coheed and Cambria's "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3." I still like the section and the melody itself, but its unfortunate that the melody is so carbon copy. As a final note to this review, I was thinking to myself that Spat or somebody is going to undoubtedly call this fanboyish, but I'd like to argue that fanboyism is kissing a band's as
s and not knowing why. When I kiss a band's as
s I think I have the ability to step back and savor the aroma and flavor, and understand why I enjoy it so much. Over and out.