Review Summary: Seven albums and over ten years into their career, Silverstein show us that they are very much alive.
Silverstein’s longevity is not something I myself can honestly claim to be surprised by – after all, when the seminal screamo band first released their renowned masterpiece Discovering the Waterfront
in 2005, I was too busy listening to Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance to notice their existence (wonderful bands, but they were about the extension of my musical palate as a 5th grader). But it’s something that I can be amazed by in retrospect, especially when nearly all of their former peers have either broken up or are already on their reunion tours. The band has not been blessed by musical diversity; ten years later, they’re still peddling the same aggressive verses and catchy choruses as they always have over three labels and seven albums. But a lack of change means the group has had much time to perfect the formula, and perfect it they have – the band found on I Am Alive In Everything I Touch
is the most mature and focused iteration of Silverstein we’ve seen yet.
IAAIEIT is the band’s third concept album, and the second of those albums to reject the idea of a conventional story. Based around the idea of the band touring North America, the album is divided into four parts: Borealis, Austeralis, Zephyrus, and Eurus (basically more pretentious names for North, South, West, and East), and each song represents a city in either Canada or the United States. The band goes so far as to add in field recordings and sounds from each location into the songs, and references to landmarks are often included to more clearly identify the city in question. They range from the whole concept of the song (“Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory” clearly references and identifies The Masquerade venue in Atlanta, GA) to just mainly serving as Easter eggs for people who are familiar with the town. But they never seem like afterthoughts and they’re often very cleverly integrated into the lyrics. Concept albums are usually more daunting than regular affairs, but like the parallel tales of its predecessor, I Am Alive
has a simple idea that’s executed well and requires little extra effort to enjoy.
Musically, the record is a straight continuation of This Is How The Wind Shifts
. Lead guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau is on his second release with the band, and he continues to excel at writing fun and sometimes brilliantly catchy melodies. You won’t find many dynamics the group hasn’t previously explored – it’s all a refinement of past ideas and principals – but that doesn’t mean the record isn’t varied and interesting. “Late on 6th” takes influence from post-rock, merging the band’s verse/chorus approach with echo-drenched guitars and an overall build throughout the song that pays off in a massive, earth-shattering climax. Addictive pop punk numbers like “Desert Nights” temper explosive bits of hardcore like “Milestone”, with the album heavily leaning towards melody. Even the heavier parts are sickeningly catchy, showing off Silverstein’s sincere desire to cling to you as hard as vocalist Shane Told does to all of the girls featured in his songs.
Silverstein does a remarkable job of hiding their age. They feel every bit as vital to the genre they helped popularize as new musicians over ten years ago. But new bands don’t release albums like I Am Alive In Everything I Touch
– they need that ten years of maturation and songwriting experience to even come close to the level of refinement on display. Some might consider it disappointing that the band never branched out into headier territory, but great poppy music is just as hard to craft as more complicated forms, and Silverstein continue to prove that they’re some of the most qualified people out there to bring it to us.