Review Summary: A fire started, but not properly kindled.Safe From The Losing Fight
was a forgettable, at times laughable, alternative rock/emo release that tried hard to rip on Paramore and The Used. Vocalist David Pelsue managed to rip of Rob Berkley (Pillar) and Bert McCracken (The Used) at the same time, with bearable yet mixed results. The guitarwork, for the vast majority of the record, sounded like it could’ve come straight from Paramore’s first three albums, and drums are bass were, with rare exception, standard fare. But the main problem was just how inoffensive this concoction ended up being, creating a boring atmosphere and a fairly low rating. It seemed that Kids In The Way were just about to be another standard Flicker Records band: monotonous, painfully average, and ultimately forgotten. They couldn’t make the rare exception that This Beautiful Republic and Pillar had/have by at least partially succeeding. But then came Apparitions of Melody
, with a promise to be heavier, darker, and more varied.
To the band’s credit, even though it’s to a small degree, they kept said promises. Singing wise, David Pelsue stays within the comfortable range he found on the last record, but he exercises his ability to deliver raw-throated cries much more frequently. It’s important to note that he sings more than he screams, and when he does scream, it’s a schizophrenic howl in the vein of Bert McCracken, not necessarily controlled and mastered. While I’d much rather listen to the latter, the former works for this genre and is passable. Guitar-wise, there’s actually some noteworthy moments, unlike the predecessor. No, the drop C#/drop D riffs and leads aren’t terribly innovative or original, but they work well, are occasionally enjoyable, and are slightly matured over the Paramore-riffs-tuned-lower approach on Safe From The Losing Fight. Now seems a good time to note something else: Kids In The Way isn’t channeling Beartooth or A Day To Remember. They are a little heavier than last time around, yes, but still largely carry the trappings of alternative rock/emo upon their backs. Drums and bass are mainly just there: they aren’t bad, but they don’t stand out a whole lot.
“Last Day of 1888” is a bruising opener that grabs the listener right off the bat with engaging lyrics, an absolutely pounding guitar riff, and the mournful shrieks of Pelsue. This is a killer song and easily rivals, if not topples, all of SFTLF. “Even Snakes Have Hearts” is an in-your-face rocker with plenty of screams, thrashing drums, and semi-technical guitarwork. The pacing of the main hook is absolutely brilliant: it’s catchy, bouncy, and will ultimately get stuck in your head, despite the dark lyrical content (more on that later). The title track is a punk-ish number, with drumwork similar to that of “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down. David switches seamlessly between a slightly gritty croon, momentary shrieks, and full on screams. And, put simply, the guitar work throughout sounds like it means serious business and you had better get out of the band’s way.
Sadly, that’s all you’re gonna find for standouts. Every other track on the record falls back into the “Paramore with a male vocalist” crap that was overdone on the first album. Well, maybe not all for standouts actually. The lyrics are so much better this time, it is unbelievable. “Last Day of 1888” discusses the psychology of both the mob mentality and a convicted killer, “Safety In The Darkness” blazes through the topics of secrets quite effectively, and “Even Snakes Have Hearts” is a no-holds barred perspective of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus Christ. Points have to be awarded here, because this is some serious maturation over the first album’s written word.
I went into this optimistically, especially with such a relatively strong opening. As stated in my last KIDW review, this brand of alt-rock isn’t typically my style (I guess you could call it emo but I don’t wanna quibble too much over genres), though I have enjoyed some work by its heavyweights. That being said, a hardcore fan could find a lot to like about this album, arguably a little more than myself. A casual fan may appreciate the engrossing lyrical content and a few songs, but ultimately skip the rest of the record.