Review Summary: It rehashes, removes and mistreats what made Falling Up interesting in the first place. Captiva is too long, lacks enough good ideas, and is ultimately quite forgettable.
The third time around, things seem to either pick back up or get worse. Whether it’s "The Godfather Part III", Minutes to Midnight
, or "Terminator 3", the third try (what I like to call “three-quels”) often turns out as a letdown.
With their long awaited follow up to Dawn Escapes
, Falling Up have pretty much proven to be a one trick pony. Musically, it’s an animal that looked good at one time, but is now past it’s prime. Age has set in prematurely, and it’s missing a major limb. One can’t help but feel awkward as you recollect how good this once looked.
After the 2006 remix album Exit Lights
, guitarist Joseph Kisselburgh left Falling Up late that year. The decision would enable him to focus on The Send (his solo project). Captiva
was written without a devoted guitarist, and suffers quite badly as a result. Too much of the album is missing decent guitar parts, and most of the time would have been more interesting with some. Although the guitar parts previously were nothing to write home about, they were
moderately interesting, and helped the band’s overall sound a lot. (see the intro to “Flights”).
The album starts out somewhat promising. A Guide to Marine Life
opens with a spacey synth intro (somewhat akin to “Searchlights”) and slowly builds to the huge, catchy chorus. It slows down for the quite good piano interlude, before finishing off yet again with that great chorus.
is hands down the best song on the album, beginning with a dual guitar intro and featuring another mega catchy chorus. If there’s one thing to be commended here, it’s the picking of this album’s single. It’s fun, catchy, and energetic – all what we’ve come to expect from the band.
The next two tracks are decent, and round out the good section of Captiva
. Goodnight Gravity
is as energetic as the previous song, and leans quite a bit towards pop punk. It’s at once a great and bad move: vocalist Jesse Ribordy sounds more at home, genre-wise (his voice is not irritating - like so many from that genre - but if I had to pick, that’s what genre I would put him in). At the same time, the song sounds like early Relient K (if RK was from the 80's), and it feels somewhat awkward. The title track begins with a excellent piano part that (perhaps for little reason) reminds me of the theme to E.T.
. That is, however, the only real redeeming quality about the track. From here, the music takes a nosedive into filler, falling even further along the way.
The rest of Captiva
continues in similar fashion to one of the first four tracks, with more alternative rock, piano, strings and synths. Imagine mixing various elements of Linkin Park, Muse and Coldplay, but ending up with a much less tasty result. Nearly everything on the album has been done before, both by the band themselves and others.
Mid-tempo power ballads are the main dish served, becoming stale and/or bitter after just a couple listens. Most of the songs (How They Made Cameras
mainly) keep going a minute too long, with nothing interesting being added that might justify the length(s). It’s a bad ratio of quality to length; perhaps an attempt to provide more material for fans to chew on.
In the end, the major feeling one gets from Captiva
is disappointment. The band has done better, and has released some above average material before. While it is nice to see them change their sound, it’s a step in the wrong direction, and no longer interesting. Jesse Ribordy’s obscure lyrics and song titles, the boring alternative music, the electronic influence…. we’ve heard it before, with much better execution. Here’s hoping Falling Up gets back on track soon, cause otherwise we’ll be left remembering what once was a worthwhile listen.
Looking at the discography:
is completely non-captivating, earning a 2.5/5
Listen to (if you must):
A Guide to Marine Life