Review Summary: Despite following a formulaic approach and being inconsistent lyrically, Arrivals and Departures features a variety of sounds making it a solid record.
This little Canadian five piece band I started following a month or so prior to their sophomore release in 2005 has managed to do quite a bit in the past two years. So much in fact that calling them a little Canadian band just doesn’t cut it and give them anywhere near enough credit. But then again when you have the ability to put some great songs together, improve between albums, and have the drive and determination to book back to back to back tours, success is quite predictable. After selling over half a million records with just two releases and selling out their first US headlining tour, Silverstein can indeed label themselves as successful. With yet another record coming out and another coast to coast US tour lined up, Silverstein shows no signs of slowing down. Their third full length Arrivals and Departures
shows the group continuing to grow with some slight deviations in their overall sound. The pairing of this along with some emotional, personal lyrics and some new twists contributes to a fairly enjoyable record despite constantly displaying the same format.
Arrivals and Departures
has a pretty large amount of variety present on it, at least in terms of sound. It features the band’s signature sound as shown in the opener “Sound of the Sun”
, which constantly switches from heavy to melodic with some loud drop D progressions creating the fury and some smooth octave chords fixing up an easily digestible chorus. The next track “Bodies and Words”
is performed under the same format but introduces a respectable amount of riffs including some dual guitar harmonies. Its crescendo during the bridge comes off as strong marking a change in the right direction in terms of songwriting. While the group is still timid about switching their general arrangement up, they have become stronger in other aspects on songwriting. Lead single “If You Could See Into My Soul”
opens with a half time feel rhythm wise and a very unique sounding guitar line with a chorus effect pedal on it. Just about the only surprise found in the song is the half screamed chorus, which can sound awkward in parts. Despite being predictable in structure, the sounds present on the opening tracks are enjoyable and diverse from one another.
Silverstein’s usage of the same structure and arrangement does not begin to tire until some of the later tracks. They do a great deal of little things in order to prevent repetition from setting in, such as the perfectly delivered chant section in “My Disaster”
which marks a new sound for the group. “The Sand Will Turn to Glass”
hits almost like a classic mid-tempo punk song with its gimmick free and energetic sound after a faint guitar intro. However, there are a couple of instances where their formulaic approach becomes unconceivable issue. “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”
dwells in monotony with the same rehashed progression. The song just stays at the same tempo and mood for too long and really begins to drag. When boring music work meets a predictable structure things take a plunge down in quality. The biggest complaint with the songwriting lies in the last track “True Romance”
. At such a long length of almost six minutes one would assume the group would mix up the format. Sad but true they do not as the first two verses and choruses are almost exactly alike, making them both drag immensely. The clean guitar work sounds different but after the initial hit wears off that they are doing something new, their inability to switch things up becomes a serious issue. They fool listeners with a drum roll to think that change in coming but in reality the song goes no where and ends up repeating the final chorus. The only new aspect is the guitar lead atop which ends up cheesy half of the time and short of dramatic for the other half. Lazy and boring songwriting plagues “True Romance”
as it is obvious the group did not capitalize on the song’s full potential. Sadly, the ending of a great record is a lackluster one as it could have been fascinating and unique.
Lyrically the band is in a completely new place, which at times is quite fascinating itself. Lead vocalist Shane Told was quoted saying he got out of a seven year relationship before the writing process began and that he felt the lyrics were much more personal then anything he had written in the past. At times he even debated about if he was just writing the record for himself. Regardless of that, he aimed to make some of the lyrics carry hope and the message that no matter how rough the time is things will get better. As you can probably imagine, this recipe is definitely a hit or miss in terms of how the product with turn out. Some lyrics succeed in fulfilling his goal such as the chorus of “Worlds Apart”, “I'll follow through again this time./I'll swallow swords, spit out my pride./I'll be just fine”
Then there are times as shown in “Still Dreaming”
where the lyrics are just far too vague and tasteless, “Every week the days seem to get longer./But you know our love gets stronger with every word we say./Stronger every day.”
Lyrically the record does not always focus on relationships, as “Vanity and Greed”
tackles honesty and life lessons “ I've seen the bravest lions shy away/I've seen the tallest tress fall down/I've made a hobby of self-deprecating/My honesty and my integrity”
. While showing a new side to Told, the lyrics can be a mixed bag in terms of quality. If nothing else, they tear down the doors and connect the listener right into his heart, certainly giving this aspect of the record a different feel.
Despite being moderately inconsistent lyrically, following a formulaic approach, and ending on a disappointing note, Arrivals and Departures
still manages to be a solid record. The variety in terms of sounds present on the record is the most found on any Silverstein record. This turns out to be a huge plus. While the rehashed arrangements can get tiresome, the assortment of sounds keeps things interesting. The group has certainly fine tuned some transitions in their writing and shows a talent for adding subtle things into tracks to make them more attractive and appealing. Also, they have expanded on their core sound by sparingly showing new influences and adding some fresh sounds into their trademark sound. Lyrically the album is hit or miss and certainly shows a brand new side to the personalities of the group. While there is plenty to like in Arrivals and Departures
, at the end of the day it really won’t make or break what you think about the band. If you disliked Silverstein in the past, I highly doubt this will change anything. At the same time if you are a fan, this should be plenty to satisfy your fix.
-Sound of the Sun
-If You Could See Into My Soul
Final Rating: 2.5/5