Review Summary: Forced maturity.
Structures is a band that has a name that was somewhat ironic for a while: the songs they produced were haphazard and chaotic, featuring abrupt transitions and forgoing regular song structures for songs that often felt more like a jumble of parts than a coherent product. But on 2011's "Divided By" (or "/" if you want to be super pretentious about it), it often worked extremely well - the breakdown transitions and stop-start tempo changes were charming and each part was so memorable on its own that it hardly mattered if you couldn't tell what part came from what song. But this immature chaos was a source of criticism for the band, and one that wasn't entirely unwarranted. Most everyone expected the sound of a second Structures album would be more focused, but not many people expected the change to be as drastic as it turned out to be. "Life Through A Window" is almost unrecognizable as a Structures album, adopting a flavor effectively used in the past by Northlane and Stray From The Path and keeping only the basest elements of their previous album in play - low tunings, copious amounts of breakdowns, and an aura of technicality. The change in sound could have worked out wonderfully, but most of the time it comes off as being blander and less adventurous that what we already know the band is capable of. LTAW is a rote metalcore album that satisfies but rarely dares to impress.
The album is at its best when it's showcasing places Structures have TRUELY never been before - the single "The Worst of Both Worlds" might amount to little more than a breakdown, but the interesting production and energy make it truly bounce-worthy, and the title track takes a page out of Volumes' handbook by being both groovy and hypnotically melodic. And the band sounds half like themselves on cuts like "Nothing To Lose" and "Extinction", which truly reflect what "Divided By" would have been like if the band had read a songwriting manual or two. Unfortunately, there are almost as many missteps: "Buried" has the interesting concept of making a breakdown out of the coordinates Walter White uses to bury his massive fortune in "Breaking Bad", but you'd never know it just by listening because the breakdown itself is lifeless and dull, and "My Conscience" sounds like a rejected Bring Me The Horizon B-side with a riff that was almost certainly written in minutes. Metalcore albums beg for parts that constantly and consistently grab your attention, and there are too many songs here that are content with being unassuming deep cuts.
For what it's worth, the production is much improved from the atrocious mastering job done with "Divided By", which was so bad it must have given engineers nightmares about brick walls for weeks on end. The only issue is that the monotone vocals of guitarist Brendon Padjasek (who took over after original vocalist Nick Xourafas left) often seem like they're too loud in the mix. This may or may not actually be the case, and the vocals aren't awful by any means, but their anti-dynamic nature makes them far more suited to a quieter role ala Converge, and they will most certainly turn off some of the band's followers.
Structures' new direction and vocals aren't bad, and neither is their new approach to writing songs. It's admirable to want to make your sound more punchy and accessible. But in concentrating on making things cohesive and coherent, the band seems have to forgotten the importance of creating catchy riffs and memorable moments that pervade all parts of the album. Despite their name, Structures would do well to remember that structure isn't everything when it comes to songwriting. Until then, they get a C for effort.