Review Summary: A worthwhile side venture from one of pop punk's more talented guitarists.
Elder Brother is the side project of The Story So Far's guitarist Kevin Geyer and vocalist Dan Rose. For every similarity it shares with Kevin's mother project, there's a dozen other things that make it a unique venture. It melds the upbeat atmosphere of pop punk with the twisting, introspective guitar melodies and lyrics of bands participating in the revival of the 90s emo sound: think American Football mixed with TSSF. Your enjoyment of the resulting material will likely hinge on how much your mouth is watering at the sound of that combination, but rest assured that although it may be lacking diversity in some areas, everything comes together to make a memorable, worthwhile record.
An immediate standout on the album is the first single "Throw Me To The Wolves", with its prominent, powerful syncopated bassline. The way the guitar and bass weave together induces a warm and nostalgic feeling, something that perfectly fits the lyrical content of the song. Dan puts real emotion into his voice, but sings mostly straight and doesn't try to sound like every other out-of-key punk/emo vocalist. It gives him a unique, smooth sound, but as sincere as he is, sometimes it comes off as a little boring. More moments like the end of "Lightning Bug" would have been appreciated, where Dan screams his lungs out and manages to sound both unrestrained and fully in control at the same time. Kevin shows a little more versatility than he has before, although he has a signature style to his writing that's on display here, and the percussion is ably handled by brothers Charles and Matthew Vincent, who provide a steady groove that brings a relaxing sensation to the music while never becoming uninteresting.
The production really brings things together, with well-picked tones and clarity throughout. The vocals are just a tad too loud in the mix for something that emphasizes instruments on a similar level musically, but for something that's so sing-a-long anyway it shouldn't bother most people. The album's short run time keeps the fact that a lot of songs sound similar down to a minor complaint at best. If you are a fan of The Story So Far but would prefer to listen to something more laid back and toned down, or just a fan of rock with 90s emo influences at all, this album comes highly recommended.