Review Summary: Manners has succeeded in creating an album that highlights the harsh realities of life in a way that is addicting and endlessly listenable.
If there was one thing that I could pinpoint in my life that first attracted me to music, it would be the cathartic expression of hardcore. The distorted walls of noise, pounding drums, and anguished screams all pointed to something that I felt but couldn’t really articulate myself. Bands such as Modern Life Is War and Comeback Kid opened the proverbial door to a world where I was not only understood as an angry teen, but it also gave me the ability to adopt and embrace the bitter cynicism that I felt at that time. It ended up turning into a positive, strangely enough; I would go to concerts and scream along with angry and disillusioned fans while not feeling so directionless and alone for a few hours. The raw power and unified feeling in the crowd just made me come alive, in a way that I couldn’t ever fully describe.
Pale Blue Light is an exercise in everything that I grew up listening to, with a smattering of different influences that elevate the album to a completely different level. Manners have created something that is depression personified; from the desperate howls of the lead vocalist to the startlingly black metal-influenced guitar sections, the mood of this release is as varied as it is emotionally impacting. Album opener “Boiling Point” starts off with gorgeous guitar melodies and then veers into a mid-paced example of what can be expected throughout the album; raspy, screamed vocals with lyrics ripped straight from a personal journal entry. The thunderous double bass that rears it head on “Wallflower” is matched in intensity only by the plaintive screams of, “I don’t want to be faceless, nameless/But I can’t stand to change this/So I guess I’ll remain this/The haunted and wasted”.
The intensity of Pale Blue Light never lets up; it is monolithic in that aspect. Even when the album takes a breather (beginning of “Equinox”), the dark undertone is never lost. There are plenty of heavy moments to be sure, but the inclusion of a bleak atmosphere is what gives this album such a personal meaning to the individual listener. As the last seconds of “Living Will” fade out, I can’t help but compare the feeling I am left with to the equivalent of getting to the end of your favorite book. You read through the book multiple times, not because the story within changes, but rather because different emotions and ideas can be taken from the same pages. This is not a perfect album in any critical sense, and many people will state that this is just another excellent melodic hardcore release. Its imperfections are what speak to me in a way that an album has not spoken to me in a very long time. The despondent lyricism doesn’t make me more depressed, but rather makes me feel like I am not alone when those thoughts tap me on the shoulder at night. In this case, Manners has succeeded in creating an album that highlights the harsh realities of life in a way that is addicting and endlessly listenable. Pale Blue Light is nothing and everything all at once; a not-so-gentle reminder that not only is life difficult, but that you are not alone.
Haha nice man! It seems like we are always doing this sort of thing, I remember you saying you had listened to Athletics' first album a few days before I posted my review of it. Definitely check it out, I doubt that my hyperbolic review will provide much insight though haha. I am definitely interested in hearing what you think of it, though.
@Toolate, thanks man. It's definitely more of a personal review than my others, glad to know it worked out okay. This is one of those albums that you almost don't want to relate to, if only because the subject matter is so depressing lol.