I See Stars
Treehouse


4.0
excellent

Review

by ZachNyeScienceGuy USER (19 Reviews)
June 17th, 2016 | 75 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Trimming the fat and unearthing a new identity.

Every band strives to find their muse. Every musician wants to encapsulate a sound in their music that defines them as musicians. Post-hardcore outfit I See Stars have been no stranger to this journey. With many attempts, some being better than others, they have been a band that constantly searches for their identity and by extension the penultimate I See Stars sound. Mixing Post-hardcore, EDM, Pop and Alt Rock in several different ways since their inception, showing snippets of promise in each crevasse of their music amidst a broad lens of unfavorable criticisms. Their latest work, Treehouse, shows a tight-knit and cohesive project that has the band sounding better than they ever have and it’s, daresay: One of the best album releases of this year.

EDM and Post-hardcore are admittedly strange genres to mix together, and while the idea of it might elicit many a cringe and flashback of Attack Attack and Crabcore, the idea of the mix being tastefully done isn’t too far-fetched. In fact the EDM and Post-hardcore genres surprisingly have one thing in common, they’ve always stricken many as forms of music that lack substance on their own but hold potential for growth in the future. Most EDM lacks the powerful choruses or consistent and solid vocal performances found in most pop records. Whereas most Post-hardcore lacks the technicality or innovation that drives most modern metal and hard rock acts. What I See Stars does on Treehouse is bring together each genre's strengths in a way that makes them both feel album-worthy, cohesive and gripping.

Treehouse is a large album, being around 50 minutes in length, and it’s one that despite this rarely overstays its welcome. Whether it be from the hard hitting guitars that transition to beautiful falsettos on the track ‘Light in the Cave’ or the traditional, yet superbly executed closing track ‘Yellow King” each song is diverse and varied enough to justify its length. The long length of this record actually helps the band fully explore a brand new approach to their sound, and it’s an approach that trims the fat of their previous releases and removes all of the genre cliches’ that keep people from looking at their music seriously.

The first four tracks of Treehouse show I See Stars’ newest musical direction in full spade as it becomes apparent from the get-go what they want to do. A lack of screams and more streamlined song structures are present in all of these tracks. With the pop flavored melodies in the stellar opener ‘Calm Snow’ the bands shift to a new softer and more dynamic sound is immediate and it is a welcome and nice change of pace. This new venture in sound is also prevalent in the standout track ‘Everyone’s Safe in the Treehouse.’ A song that’s instantly ear grabbing with a soothing and spacious opening that transitions to a hook that soars over its punching and epic instrumental. With this progressive change in musical influence, the first half of this album shows growth and maturity in a form of music that heavily lacked it.

The second half of the record presents a set of ethereal and atmospheric, yet aggressive tunes, each coated with sugary melodies that are intoxicating and catchy. Songs such as ‘Light in the Cave’ ‘Portals’ and ‘Two Hearted’ mix the bands crunching guitars, synthesizers and both electronic and natural drumming in a way that comes together as a sonic melting pot that against all odds works, and it works in a way that is refreshing and new.

Lyrically this record is also one of the most cohesive that I See Stars has mustered together. Each song using a vast array of metaphors to capture the themes that represent the album as a whole. With themes revolving around winter, in both literal and figurative senses. The album embraces this somber, reflective and nostalgic tone and it matches the sound of the record well. Treehouse both feels like and tells a story about looking at a chaotic, destructive and beautiful world from a place that’s secure, and it strikes that mood with euphoria.

As with any album that has a shift in sound, there’s bound to be a flop or two. One song that will be a point of contention for many ‘All In’ is laden with Trap and R&B influence and rap verses that sound like 2nd rate impressions to something you’d find listening to Future or Young Thug, but the genre blend is extremely corny and in some bad taste. Another one of the weaker tracks ‘Mobbin Out’ seems overly pandering to live performances, the result is a track that feels empty and a bit out of place in context of the record.

Despite these gripes, this eclectic yet cohesive sound that I See Stars has grasped on Treehouse shows nothing but mastery of the craft they’ve been trying to perfect since their 2009 debut. Gone are the days of horrible transitions and poorly placed breakdowns. Gone are the days of overly whiny, auto-tuned singing and stoic lyricism. Gone are the days of sticking screams in places where they don’t belong. After many failed attempts from many different bands, I See Stars has hit the nail on the head of the genre mix of post-hardcore and EDM.



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user ratings (181)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
William21 (3)
By no means a failure, even if the experimentation yields somewhat mixed results....


Comments:Add a Comment 
ZachNyeScienceGuy
June 17th 2016


149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Buy it here:



https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/treehouse/id1110175087



Stream it here:



https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLH22-xSMERQqznwOCDFuwjvmbBagsFe5Z

DigitalSchism
June 17th 2016


88 Comments


Never listend to this band before but my friend raved about this album so I'll have to check it out. Nice review.

SteakByrnes
June 17th 2016


4549 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The only song I've ever enjoyed by this band was Murder Mitten, I might check this out just because of Luke Holland doing the drum work

Digging: Ghost Atlas - All Is In Sync, and There's Nothing Left to Sing

lalinjaman
June 17th 2016


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been a fan of I see stars since 2009 and have listened to every album they ever released and it's amazing how each of their album almost has nothing in common with each other except for the electronic parts which I love, every album is very different, and that makes it, at least in my opinion very enjoyable to listen to. This one though might just be their best one yet.



Sinternet
June 17th 2016


14836 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

'Most EDM lacks the powerful choruses or consistent and solid vocal performances found in most pop records. '



Well-wriiten review but I disagree with this, i'd say that often vocals form one of commercial EDM's strengths. It's real weakness is the short shelf-life of most of it with the constant trend-hopping.



I wasn't too impressed with the singles from this, felt like a downgrade from New Demons which I liked quite a lot despite my distaste for this style, i'll check it out though. Artwork is nice at least.

erizen826
June 17th 2016


850 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've had a fascination with this band for a while. Excited to fully digest this when I get home.

bloc
June 17th 2016


44274 Comments


I respect their change in sound and definitely hear the appeal in this, but I was not a fan tbh

Digging: Beastmilk - Climax

Thealwaysopenedmind
June 17th 2016


634 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Nice review. I'll give this album a shot.

Feather
June 17th 2016


3945 Comments


Might give this a shot, I've just really grown out of this type of music

Erubalcado
June 17th 2016


14 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Solid album and a nice change but, do yourself a favor and skip "All In".

bloc
June 17th 2016


44274 Comments


^Damn good advice, no idea wtf they were thinking with that one.

William21
June 17th 2016


169 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Seriously, did *anyone* like All In?

Snide
June 18th 2016


7050 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

God this album was lit.

All In was pretty bad though.

Danred97
June 18th 2016


1487 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

well...I'm shocked. This is actually good. I've hated everything this band has done except for a couple tracks off of their second album, so yeah, this works. They toned down the metalcore side of their sound (thank god) and focused on being hooky/poppy, which was the only think I liked about them anyway. They also used more dark synth beats and less loud dubstep (don't care if that's the right term), which works better overall.

Digging: Tigers Jaw - spin

Snide
June 19th 2016


7050 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

The term you're looking for is "less wobbles", as the amount of those were severely reduced on this album.

Ebola
June 19th 2016


2868 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I didn't care much for their last album, should I still give this a try?

Update: Wow, I actually dig this quite a bit. Their old stuff annoyed me to no end, but yeah, this is pretty damn good.

Thealwaysopenedmind
June 20th 2016


634 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The album wasn't much above average for me at first listen.

dathvada321
June 20th 2016


1816 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is actually pretty solid. I used to really hate this band but they've improved a lot over their last couple of albums

Ebola
June 20th 2016


2868 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's a good album but it's rather samey-sounding and starts to get tiresome towards the end. Regardless, way better than anything else they've released.

iChuckles
June 21st 2016


247 Comments


Coming from someone who really liked New Demons, this album is a worthy follow-up. "Two Hearted" grooves hard.



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