Review Summary: October Fall's debut album is a mixed bag, yet still enjoyable.
October Fall is:
Pat D'Andrea-Lead Vocals, guitar
Clark Harrison-Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Nick Scalise-Drums, Percussion
Owen Toomey-Piano, Backing Vocals
Greg Shanahan-Bass, Backing Vocals
Is it power pop" Is it punk rock" Is it piano rock" Who knows" October Fall's debut album, A Season in Hell, was released in 2006 as an offering from Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen. Their record label greatly benefited the band, as there are songs featuring fellow label mates Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy and Haley Williams of Paramore. The two songs that these guest artists are featured in ("Second Chances" and "Keep Dreaming Upside Down") are two of the highlight songs, not only because of the guest appearances, but because these songs showcase the band where they seem the most comfortable, which is power pop with their own piano rock twist. However, they choose experiment which pays off sometimes, but other times, not so much.
The song "Caught in the Rain" is one of the payoffs from the experimenting. This one of the more punk rock songs where vocalists Pat D'Andrea takes a more aggressive approach and almost doesn't sound the same vocalist. This song also has some of the best lyrics, aside from a couple of the ballads. Unfortunately, the song "Hey Hey" also tries to experiment with yet another different kind of vocal approach and focuses on drums as the main instrument for most of the song. While it seems like an interesting idea, it reads better than it sounds. D'Andrea's voice starts sounding whining which gets annoying about a minute into the song, and the drum basically the high hats over and over and over again with a few interesting samples, which also gets annoying.
Where the band truly shines is in their ballads, especially the almost seven minute closer "If We're All Alone, Aren't We In This Together"" Not only is it a musically beautiful song, it manages to be beautiful while being simple at the same time. Acoustic strumming, simple piano lines, slow drum beats, and haunting strings. But then, it slowly starts building with electric guitar riffs adding into the mix and D'Andrea starts belting out the lyrics. However, it doesn't just rely on the music, but also powerful lyrics. Sorry this block of text, but the chorus really needs to be read as a whole to leave it's impact.
"The stars are burning out tonight
Do you think we'll stay this high"
And watch our favorite ones outside
Before this turns black
Lets burn away our past
And set this cruise control for crash""
While, "If We're All Alone . . ." is the most powerful ballad, every ballad leaves it's mark.
Overall, October Fall manages to create a fun yet still meaningful debut. From the power pop fun of "Second Chances" to the deep Meaning of "If We're All Alone . . ." they leave a fulfilling, if not confusing, taste left in the mouth of the listener.