Review Summary: Not too harsh or too glum, but just right.
With their previous album, Nick Thieneman, Evan Patterson, and Jeremy McMonigle took their usual noisiness and added a more dire atmosphere, elevating the tone to a deep and disquieting feel without sacrificing any of the necessary calamity. The fusion successfully mixed dark, emotional tones with raw energy leading to a plethora of sentimental yet lively tunes. Now with their 2014 follow up, Easy Pain
, the Young Widows
further refine this combined sound into a harsher, dimmer, and overall ominous melody with excellent instrumentation from McMonigle and Thieneman as well as the strained vocals of Patterson. The sinister feel of Easy Pain
surpasses that of their previous efforts which will lead many to call this album the band's best work to date.
From start to finish, the album keeps you on the edge of your seat with its relentless distortion and eerie vocals. Songs such as the opener "Godman"
display these elements in their purest form with a straight-forward devilish guitar riff and pounding drums. Their sound clearly derives much influence from noise rock contemporaries like The Jesus Lizard
with a more melodic spin added. That being said the album isn't without its melodies; one being "Kerosene Girl."
The song contains a memorable hook and an overall punk-ish feel, which help mark it as one of the high points of the album.
Much of the album also uses a formulaic inclusion of unique ambient effects that serve as introductions of each song. These intros are acting presentiments which leave a constant feeling of uneasiness towards what happens next. This tension is the main fuel for the album's progressively dark atmosphere. Songs like "Doomed Moon"
breathe in and out of calm ambiance to strident attacks that provide the listener with a dizzy and unsettling feeling throughout the whole song. "Bird Feeder"
features tempo changes and gradually increased intensity which helps retain the foreboding tension making the song progressively more interesting as it plays.
The band also capitalizes on extended instrumentation on songs like "Cool Night"
that almost make you wonder if the song has any vocals at all (before they eventually do come in.) "Gift of Failure"
also features extended instrumental work in the opening and closing of the song which isolates the vocals and increases their ominous effect. The album does an excellent job of balancing out the volition of the guitars and drums with the gloomy vocals and droning bass without leaning too far towards overbearing power or depressed white noise. All of the built up tension in the album pays off with the concluding track which is surely the most emphatically emotional song on the album. With the exit of "The Last Widow"
the album leaves a soul-searching aftertaste that superbly reflects the rest of the album.
Throughout the entirety of their career, the Young Widows
have steadily improved their sound with each release. Easy Pain
successfully fuses the riotousness of Settle Down City
with the sullen fervor of the more recent In and Out of Youth and Lightness
into one centralized independent style of noisy post-hardcore. The most interesting element of the album is the emphasis on tension and how it's used to keep the listener slightly skittish in anticipation for the more exciting parts of the songs. Such effort put into creating a more mature and polished sound works well for Easy Pain
as it is their most creative and interesting release. Hopefully they will continue to use their experience in musical experimentation in crafting an even greater sound in future releases.
-Gift of Failure