Review Summary: Chasing the sun 'til anything felt right
Nearly six years ago, I sat at this very computer and wrote about the arrival of a certain Fueled By Ramen threesome. Their debut full-length arrived as the summer weather did, following a set of strong EPs, some fun YouTube covers, and a robust social media blitz. The record itself had style. It was far from perfect, but demonstrated range and experimentation that was refreshing for a release in that space, and it left the implication that there was more to come. "Infections and sexy this is most certainly worth your time," I affirmed of (now-defunct) VersaEmerge
, a band whose unassuming turbulence would ensure that no second record ever materialized, ultimately proving me wrong.
In turning the page to Poughkeepsie, NY's Against the Current
, I don't want to harp too much longer on a cautionary tale. Apart from that to which I've already drawn attention, the bands don't have all that much in common, and knowing the end of VE's story shouldn't invite clouds upon ATC's delightfully energetic debut LP, In Our Bones
, an album so saturated in levity and good-nature that it can't help but bring May sunshine along for the ride.
Opener "Running with the Wild Things" immediately sets the tone -- a familiar us-against-them anthem with a soaring chorus and relentless pop punk energy. Vocalist Chrissy Costanza carries the song like she's budgeting a single breath. Her presence is immediate and effortless, with no reservation in earshot. "Forget Me Now," a gushing, lovable fuck-you to fake friends and opportunists, moves along in the same fashion. A victory lap two tracks into the band's debut? Costanza, and all of her twenty-one years, hits every beat of how we tell one another off in 2016. More impressive, however, is that elsewhere on the record, when the needle swings back the other way and she needs to dial down the bravado, Costanza shows that she has the poise to pull it off. Just listen to the title track, a pretty little affirmation masquerading as an afterthought among the anthems. It's the kind of track you could miss if done clumsily.
What is perhaps most evident about In Our Bones
is how the profoundly the album's appeal is derived from its disposition -- almost to the extent that you can write off other shortcomings. "Runaway" is maybe the most clichéd lyrical regurgitation imaginable but the song remains one of the most effective on the record, mainly because of its near-perfect execution of the same earnest pop rock dynamics that have wrapped themselves around our hearts for the past 40 or so years.
And this is essentially how the record carries itself: there's not much new in the way of substance, but the execution is nonetheless pleasing enough that you can shrug off flat or dull offerings (see, e.g., "Brighter" or "Wasteland"). It's a nice record filled with nice moments. Give it a spin!