Review Summary: Issues’ self-titled is something that may seem new and different on the outside, but inside is the same-old song and dance that this genre’s been up to, it’s just singing to a different tune.
Issues is a band that was mainly composed of and formed by ex. Woe, is Me members. After several line-up changes with the loss of twins Ben and Cory Ferris (Who were ironically replaced by two new twins Tyler and Skyler Accord) Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn remain as the only reminder of said fact. Their first release “Black Diamonds” largely showed similarities to what Woe was with them involved, but with added pop and Rn’B influences. With Issues’ second Endeavor, and first LP, it is evident that the vision they have is a far cry from what Woe, is Me was. And it’s that vision that makes them stand out as their own individual entity, whether it’s for better or worse.
I want to kick this review off with a personal statement (I know, I know, I’m not supposed to…). I get what Issues is trying to do, in fact I actually really admire them in some regards. They’re trying to breathe life and change into a rather stale, formulaic and predictable genre of music. The problem is that while the concept is innovative and unique on paper, it is poorly executed here.
If you put bubblegum, steak and corn in a blender and ate it, it’d probably be what Issues’ sound would taste like. They mix together multiple genres of music to create this auditory bipolar ambiance. That’s all fine and good in a creative sense, but where the sound falls flat is, oddly enough, in its lack of innovation. It seems as though they directly took metal-core’s lowed tuned guitar’s and pace destroying breakdowns and tried to mix them with pop’s Rhianna style “Nah Nah Nah,” effect-ridden vocals, and atmospheric synthesizers. This mix of genres only turns into this water/oil solution. Both influences seem to clearly define what they are, but they never blend. They lack cohesion and only make the listener want to listen to a well done pop or metal-core album, not an empty mix of the two.
Emptiness is the key feeling that the album presents. There’s a lot missing from this album technically. When it comes to guitar work, it seems as if they forgot to add in the lead guitar track. As a result, all that’s prevalent 85% of the time is open-string, palm mute, or power chord monotony that is unimpressive and un-inventive. This leaves the vocals and synth as the driving force of the album. Carter’s vocals and Ty’s synth complement each other fairly well and exemplify this album’s highest points. Bohn’s role here was really a disappointment. He shows no growth as a vocalist, all he presents here is the same barely comprehensible, monotone screams that we’re all too familiar with. Nothing different, nothing new.
Lyrically, this album can be refreshing and strikingly poetic, other times it’s overly cliché and can lack a central idea, or understandable theme. “Never Lose Your Flame” is the best to regard lyrically, with a ton of really fantastic metaphors, all containing the central theme of flames. The worst are all spread out unevenly, but are really obvious in two tracks: “Late” and “Life of a Nine.”
While their intent may be to shake up the genre, Issues lacks the creativity to truly move this industry forward. Issues’ self-titled is something that may seem new and different on the outside, but inside is the same-old song and dance that this genre’s been up to, it’s just singing to a different tune.