Review Summary: Don’t close your eyes when you look at the sun, it doesn’t always shine for everyone
The interestingly-named band Alexander The Great hails from Bloomington, Indiana. They play a style of indie rock closely influenced by emo, and to a lesser extent by post-rock and folk. The band’s first, and so-far only, full-length album is Faces Change, released in 2009. It effectively demonstrates the talent and great potential of the band.
Alexander The Great’s serious ambitions are on display with the extravagant nature of many moments of the album. At various times, the usual guitars are suddenly joined by braying choruses of horns, something that may startle at first but ultimately proves a pleasant surprise. The sing-along chorus at the end of the brilliant opening track “Home Alone In Central Park” is another remarkably grandiose moment from a young band only beginning their musical career. Variety is another strength of the album, with “Dusk” and “Cabin Fever”, two instrumental tracks with a post-rock feel, providing gorgeous interludes amid the more common and aggressive emo-leaning songs. Faces Change’s notable lack of filler also provides the album with great cohesion. A distinctive night-time vibe permeates it, equal parts exhilarating and depressing.
While most of the songs on Faces Change are great, the album does have some flaws. Lyrically, the subject matter is reliant on heartbreak and other typically clichéd concerns. There are occasionally cringe-worthy lines, such as “I want to fall in love again, but I’m not sure I still believe in it” in “Don’t You Forget It”. In truth, though, the open displays of weakness and naiveté on display in Alexander The Great’s songs are a large part of their considerable appeal. Even the poorest lines might well sound decent when delivered in a sincere manner within the musical context of these songs. A potential additional weakness would be the vocals, since although Alexander The Great’s music is likely to appeal to listeners beyond the typical emo fan base, vocally the band might be more difficult to appreciate unless one is prepared for the somewhat “whiny” style. These are fairly minor complaints, however, and taken as a whole this album is well worth listening to.
Ultimately, in Faces Change Alexander The Great has crafted a strong release, one that will make listeners keep an eye on the band’s future. The band effectively creates, out of a wide variety of influences, a unified artistic work which produces a distinctive mood, one that gets better with every listen. Fans of indie rock, emo, and even post-rock are recommended to explore what Faces Change has to offer. Choosing to name your group after a legendary leader who conquered the entire known world is clear evidence of great ambitions, and Alexander The Great demonstrate with Faces Change that the band may well be worthy of its famous namesake.