Review Summary: An album by Rise Records...
Defeat The Low are most definitely one of Rise's least known bands. With only one album thus far which received little to no air play and very little promotion, the band have a very long way to go to leave any sort of mark in the world of rock. A Nervous Smile isn't going to sell multi-platinum or propel the band into international fame, but what it lacks in commercial success, it makes up for pretty well in terms of content. The album isn't anything original, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable, inoffensive LP.
The albums opener 'Swordfish' is arguably the best track on the album. It begins with soaring guitars over a mid-tempo drum beat, as Chris James begins soflty singing. His vocal work is nothing special, but is more than accessable for most listeners. His range is decent, he manages to hit every note and rarely strays from his comfort zone, which leaves a fairly strong vocal performance. The song continues into a verse/chorus/verse pattern which is just interesting enough to prevent it from feeling repetitive. A very Deftones-inspired song, it starts the album off very promisingly.
The rest of the songs, whilst not being as interesting as 'Swordfish', are still a lot of fun to listen to. The albums lead single 'Aurora Ave.' is nothing to jump up and down about, but it's bizarre tempo changes and interesting riffs keep it from being a skippable track. 'Turn To Hate' is one of the better songs on the album, with Chris James showing off his high register capabilities in the chorus. Lyrically it's hit or miss. A song about love turned sour (yawn) with a chorus full of backing vocals shouting 'TURN TO HATE! TURN TO HATE!', it nothing spectacular in terms of poetic beauty, but it's catchy enough to keep the levels of enjoyment relatively high.
Musically the album is very alt. rock, with chunky guitars and interesting riffs creating eerie soundscapes (this is mostly the case in 'Swordfish') and the drums keeping everything in time and providing the album some fun beats. Guitarist (and owenr of Rise Records) Craig Ericson is a decent guitarist, playing interesting riffs across the album, clearly taking influence from bands like Deftones and Chevelle. The bass is barely audible, but is still prominent enough to give the album depth.
For the most part, the album is a great deal of fun to listen to. Whilst it doesn't create any ripples in the water of rock music, it is enjoyable enough to warrant a listen or two.