Review Summary: Through rousing instrumentation and emotional delivery, Invalids score a modern success in only 25 minutes.
Classical paintings and sculptures still captivate intrigue to this day, their seemingly profound attention to detail marvelous to the individual observer. Something like Michelangelo’s Pieta
has a sort of transcendental emotional impact; its lifelike appearance belies the monolithic nothingness of the blank canvas—inert marble—that the piece emerged from. While Invalids’ Fulfillment EP
certainly doesn’t occupy the same league as Renaissance triumphs, it’s hard not to view the two dimensions in a similar manner: the most recent release from the New Jersey solo project-turned-collective feels like a portrait. Each guitar note softly glides through the ears like a gentle brush stroke; the percussion performance enters the fray gracefully as waves upon a shore; and the demonstrative vocal passages, coupled beside poetic lyricism, attack with precision, their delivery striking as sharp as a laser beam. Following in line with historical maestros, the very minutia of all the tracks is arranged in such a calculated, methodical manner, the various components intricately intertwined. The startling technicality presented on the record cascades down, a veritable waterfall of incredibly specific instrumentation. Even though the virtuosity prospers so spectacularly that it almost spirals out of control, in true math-genre fashion, the pieces are bound tightly and dexterously together to keep the songs confined to their allotted spaces. In doing so, Invalids package together a rewarding album whose mature songwriting and overall conveyance defy the metaphorical marble emptiness it was carved from.
Despite only having recently turned into a fully-functional outlet, the synergy between the members of Invalids is palpable. The production applied to the Fulfillment EP
is appropriately scaled back—neither the vocals nor the instruments outshine the other, acting instead in full cooperation and allowed their own periods to express themselves. Powerful vocal harmonies and trade-offs, as those in opener “General Sherman,” join the forefront alongside clean, melodic guitar tones, their technical assault transformed into a tender gust of wind. Guiding the rhythm are the drums and the bass; where the former drives the progression of each tune, its output ranging from jazz-esque symbol tapping to frantic exhibitions rivaling -core bands, the latter accentuates the overarching guitars. At a variety of periods, exemplified by the groovy riff reappearing throughout “Master of the Atom,” there is still plenty of room for it to wander on its own, supplying an extra layer to plunge the listener further into the song. When all these elements collide as effectively as they do in the constantly tempo-shifting nature of “Idle Promise” or the syncopated, rhythmic breakdown halfway through “Master of the Atom,” it’s awe-inspiring. Against all preconceptions, the songs never break from their premeditated designs, no matter how threatening the technicality becomes or how fast the expressive singing maneuvers. Invalids manage to execute instances of explosive outbursts balanced by moments of quiet where the group exercises thoughtful restraint, preventing the album from being too overbearing.
What will truly cement the Fulfillment EP
and buttress it against the plague of time, however, is the passion, not the technicality itself. Undeniably impressive in every regard though they may be, without an overlaying sense of emotional purpose, the skillful instrumental displays would remain just that—ventures into haphazardly-connected routines in playing that lack personality—and the musical canvas would persist in hollowness. Far from losing themselves in their own ambition, Invalids merge their strongest traits into one: soul-bearing stanzas, surrounded by melodically-toned guitars, soft bass strumming, and fittingly-nuanced drumming, equaling into a product that reads and feels like a love-letter to emo sensibilities.
And its spinning makes no difference
(And its ending meant acceptance)
We can’t feel angles obliquitous.
(Was to be our last attempt)
We’ll be upright, though at a distance
Anywhere on the surface
- “Scourge of a Despot”
The singing, supported through additional backing voices, feels close to bending underneath the subject of each track. Weaving together an image colored in the vibrant hues of the virtuosic playing with darkened shades—tales of shattered relationships, brought to life through vocabulary-rich lines—tucked subtly beneath, Invalids create a work of art placed in a calming atmosphere dotted with the heartbreak of nostalgia. It is a composition expertly constructed, exciting in its technical prowess, and commanding through its equilibrium of both the beautifully harmonious and the pain of regret. In short, the Fulfillment EP
erupts from stone and immediately leaps into consciousness. Although its frame may be small, the message and ultimate impact left in the wake of the album is not one to be forgotten so easily.