Review Summary: With a step in a right direction, even one away from their magnum opus The Ghosts Among Us, Our Last Night recapture some lost charisma
The Ghosts Among Us is an interesting piece of music in that it was not entirely well received by the more traditional scensters whom Our Last Night primarily market themselves towards, yet had all the right pieces to be, and is compositionally and tonally an outstanding album. This disinterest it seems was due primarily to the harsh vocal style that composed the record: a hardcore yell in essential terms, but with enough distortion behind it to expect that the general breakdown crowd would be satisfied. Front man Trevor Wentworth responded by changing to a more straight forward metalcore scream on OLN’s second release, which has stuck on every album since. The rest of the band, however, seemed to take similar cues, dropping other punk and progressive elements from their sound. Subsequent records have been more rigid structurally, sterile, perhaps, tonally, and a whole lot less gritty generally. While this isn't necessarily a problem, in this particular instance the changes essentially nerfed the band’s charm - for a few records at least. They maintained underground success through this period, however, by writing competent chorus’ and breakdowns.
Following, they regained some “magic” in a different form than that found on Ghosts. Covering massive pop numbers, their rather rugged, boyish appeal in the context of a sea of hooks was instantly apparent. Their fan base underwent a period of growth following, replicating that which accompanied their entrance into the scene with Ghosts. Logically, perhaps, their following release, Oak Island (ep) contained the vocal ranges, structures and general stylings of the songs they were covering, setting the stage for their vocal duo to shine in the same way their covers managed to. Maintaining a punk aesthetic, they seemed to be in their element again, albeit a new version of it.
Younger Dreams emerges via the expected trajectory their covers stint set them on. Gritty yet infectious singing from Trevor highlights the album. Seemingly finding his mojo performing their wildly successful covers, he is without question the number one vocalist in not only the harsh vocal section, but cleans as well. A first for an OLN full length. The more traditional singing was historically performed by Matt generally, but also more effectively. While good enough to front any band in the genre, with the new and improved Trevor on the team, Matt is simply outclassed in every facet. As a number two, though, he is as excellent of a fit as ever. Softer tonally, he contrasts and compliments the lead’s qualities. In this sense they now rival the best of these types of male vocal duos, referring but not limiting myself to Mayday Parade’s a Lesson in Romantics and Emery’s In Shallow Seas and the Question.
As a band, however, they fail to be as consistent. For Younger Dreams to be a truly outstanding record with the style they seem intent on writing, and capture the qualities found on their hugely popular covers, they need chorus’ that are as strong as the songs they cover, and only achieve this twice with White Tiger and A World Divided. The rest of the album is inoffensive, surely. Catchy, even. But larger than life" Firing on all cylinders" I don’t think so. Had this album been without either or both of these tracks it would be a 3 or even a less forgivable 2.5. An extra couple home runs would have earned them a 4.
The album still has some –core, to it. Screaming and heavier guitar sections are found. But, similar to their covers, their heavier elements are a step removed in their favour from shoe-horned. Take, even, album standout, A World Divided – it’s metal, screamed section may be well placed, but it’s short lived.
Understandably, they wish to be a band with balls. But if they’re not going to go all out pop-punk, they need to write a truly kickass breakdown again, which they haven’t done since The Ghost’s Among Us. Otherwise, they might consider simply writing the music they seem to be inspired playing.
Their only real attempt at progressive song writing is found in the closer, where they reference parts found earlier in the album, which turns out to be a great idea featuring the best employment of their heavier side on the album, but is interfered with tonally thanks to vocoded digital harmonies. It’s passable, but could have been more of an epic finishing blow had they cut back to organic singing sooner, almost instantly, specifically when distortion kicks back in. To avoid too detailed of a discussion, however, they could have just done without it altogether. A simple slip up the result of an enthusiasm for a poppier rapport.
Metalcore band or otherwise - If I knew the band were reading this, I would encourage them to ditch the falsetto sections – they don’t need them - and give er from the gut every time – I know they’ve got it. They can be a band with balls in more ways than one.
Overall, Our Last Night manage to move forward with a step in a
right direction, even one away from their magnum opus, and recapture some lost charisma.