Review Summary: Still you, still special
I spent much of the past week worrying. Worrying because I didn’t know how to score You’re Not You Anymore.
Every Counterparts album has been a strong grower, on first listen a 2.5 or a 3 out of 5, and all have risen to be 4 or a 4.5. After a week I was still unsure about You’re Not You Anymore.
A 3? A generous 3.5? How do I say an album just hasn’t clicked with me yet, how do I justify that with multiple paragraphs? Thankfully all that went in the trash because on the 10th listen it clicked. But still, I’m trying to wrap my head around why Counterparts have this effect on me, without fail, with every single album they put out. I remember trashing The Current Will Carry Us
the week of its release, and then a month later declaring it as one of my favorite albums of the year. My leading guess is that because Counterparts write so many great riffs and moments into every song it’s difficult to latch onto any given element of their sound. The first couple listens are always spent in awe of how they managed to cram twelve guitar parts into one song. Rapid fire riff after riff, often never repeated again, time signature changes, and breakdowns, my old man brain needs multiple listens to play catch up.
All the difficult-to-get-into talk is a little misleading though because You’re Not You Anymore
isn’t a prog fortress, it’s their most chorus driven work. Hardcore one-liners were the stickiest on first listen,”I won’t let you drown inside me, you haunt me like an empty house, my heart bleeds in different time,” These aren’t the deepest lyrics in the world, but Brendan Murphy’s delivery and the placement in the song makes a world of difference. You’re Not You Anymore
is Counterparts at their most riff-heavy, but that’s not to say there aren't simple beauties like much of "Swim Beneath My Skin" when the lead guitar is just one chord for a whole measure and the sliding octave chords of "Memory Misread." Counterparts songs just build and build, like the evolving guitar in "You Haunt Me" that gets more melodic and intricate as the song goes on, and on top of that their album flow is ridiculous too, all the songs blend together in a cohesive way usually reserved for concept albums. The back half of the record is too breakdown heavy, but there’s more than enough killer and catchy stuff that eventually grabs ahold of you. Counterparts are detail oriented, and so numerous and focused listens are required to fully grasp You’re Not You Anymore.
It’s a grower, but it’s well worth it.