Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count
is the first LP from post-hardcore/pop-punk band From First to Last
, and their first body of work ever with, at the time barely 16, vocalist Sonny Moore. The band itself had been around for a few years prior, and had even released an E.P with former singer Phillip Reardon, and was originally planning to record this album with said vocalist. However, with a last minute departure, Sonny was added, and thus was born the lineup for one of the biggest “scene” bands of our day.
Musically, From First to Last proved they had the ability to make good music, yet weren’t smart enough to craft anything truly original. So, instead they take the solid shredding skills of Matt Good and Travis Richter, who are the most heavily Thrice influenced members of the bans, with the smooth and thumping bass playing of Jon Weisberg who, while never impressing, lays down a steady rhythm for each song. This frees up drummer Derek Bloom to be the force he his. Bloom is oftentimes the most impressive part of From First to Last
’s sonic makeup; being a relative virtuoso compared to the rest of band mates. He constantly plays in off time tempos and has constant fills throughout the album. At time he even goes from being a rhythm instrument to being arguably being the lead, such as in “Note to Self.”
However, even with the impressive musicianship of Bloom and the solid work from his band-mates, the album still really doesn’t feel terribly original…or even good. The draw in extremely heavy amounts from Ilusion of Safety
era Thrice, as the band often uses sudden tempo changes and extremely metal-inspired riffs. However, none of it sound particularly great (the songs often end up either collapsing in on themselves from repetition, or sound like every other post-hardcore band from the past 5 years), and then the album is very single-minded with its dynamic, as nearly all of the songs have a heavy sound, with Sonny and Matt doing trade off vocals.
When songs finally do break the mold, it’s a refreshing break. However, whether or not those songs standu p regardless is another unfortunate matter. I liked You Better Before You Were Naked on the Internet
is a nifty interlude-esque track, as the industrial-sounding drum pattern and chime samples are welcome differentiation from the extremely heavy performances from before. Matt has some great clean vocals here, and Sonny does his best to try and keep his weak voice from faltering. However, Emily
is an absolutely insipid piece of work, which is no surprise as it’s a cookie-cutter acoustic track. It’s here where Sonny exposes how bad of a singer he really is, as the level of whine throughout is both irritating and painful.
It’s not that he has a necessarily bad or generic voice. All in all, it’s unique enough and…somewhat enjoyable. However, he just plain can’t sing
here, often losing faltering mid-note or not fully finishing a final word. He also had no real idea of how to control the tone of his voice, as he often stays at one monotone wail or high pitched singing, or wildly fly’s about the octaves, to ear-cringing results. However, his terrible singing style is assuaged by the fact he has Matt to back him up and do trade-off vocals for most of the songs on the album. He rarely ever carries the full weight by himself, and Mnatt is good enough of a normal singer to work perfectly as his backup. It still doesn’t hide how much work Sonny needed, and while he would vastly improve, he still is cringe-worthy here.
When the album works, it works quite well. The two singles off the album are arguably the best songs on the album; Ride the Wings of Pestilence
sounds urgent, depraved and pressing, and gives a sense of mood that most of the other tracks here only try to possess. Note To Self
is the most interesting song musically on the album, and finds From First to Last
at their best creatively, as they are in constant eclectics and excellent trade-off vocals between Sonny and Moore, and the bridge of “Note to self, I miss you terribly/This is what we call a tragedy” is arguably the highlight of the album. Surprisingly, the final untitled track ranks up there with the previous two in terms of enjoyability, as it goes from System of a down inspired riffing to rapping to hoarse screams in a little over 5 minutes.
However, not even a few great songs and decent musicianship can overcome the weaknesses thi album ultimately has. It doesn’t last up to its 38 minute duration, which considering the length is an absolute travesty. Songs often become tiring and burdensome, and the generic nature of the album is also a huge detriment. With only a few really good songs, and plenty of forgettable tunes and general trash, Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count
is an average album from a band with a good amount of promise…but just needs to learn that you can’t repeat the same time signature change 7 times in one album.