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Whenever Rob Scallon and Andrew Huang collaborate for music I get excited, and when I heard they were making an full album within a ten hour period, I was beyond ecstatic. Even if it was completely terrible, it would at least be interesting...
...and gee whiz, pa, this sure is interesting.
To my surprise, this album is not only coherent, it is one of the most raw and emotional records I have ever listened to. I don’t think that even Andrew and Rob could have predicted that when they entered the studio they would leave with a top-tier emo punk album, but life works in mysterious ways.
The strongest aspect of Ten Hours is the lyrical themes and connections to mental illness and society’s expectations of people. Tracks like “Two Friends,” a heart wrenching song about being embarrassed to spend time with your friends because of crippling social anxiety, and “Don’t Go,” a lovely ballad glistened with acoustic guitar and outstanding vocals by Andrew, really capitalize on why this record works. Andrew sings out “don’t go just because I do, don’t go because I need you” in a perfect sincere tone that’s accompanied by Rob’s five-star harmonies.
There are more aggressive cuts present, like the crushing “Don’t Go To My House.” This song is fueled by angst and is packed with relatable lyrics about giving up on trying to find happiness, and lashing out in anger because of it. Another song also packs a bit of a punch is “Things to Do.” The trade-off vocals really tie it together perfectly, and it has an outstanding chorus. The guitar solo shreds, too.
Instrumentally, the duo lay down some outstanding riffs and beats. The guitar takes a mathy turn on tracks like the twinkly tear-soaked love song “Always” and the garage-emo “Spoilers for Playdead’s Inside.” The drums remain constant throughout, as well as the bass, and they both elevate the record by a lot.
Ten Hours is not only sad on the surface, however, because it does have a few tracks that take some close listening to discover their true meaning.
“Can’t Be Stopped” is a catchy and anthemic pop-punk on a first listen, with simple power chords and impressive vocals; however, the lyrics uncover a darker story. This song is a strong tale about trying to fight heroin addiction. Andrew repeats to himself “I’m not gonna take it, no,” while he proceeds to be “back on top” seconds later, displaying a perfect example of how far the opioid epidemic has reached. Another seemingly upbeat track is “Rollerbladin’,” which uses skateboarding as a metaphor for drug use. Andrew describes the insane rush of feeling and emotion he gets while “rollerblading,” prompting him to believe that it’s the only way to get a feeling of excitement in life, stating it makes him feel like he’s flying.
The hardest hitting moment on this beautiful record comes in form of an amazing grand finale with the song “Possible Band Names.” Pleasant instruments lay the foundation for Andrews outstanding lyrics. His words on how everything in life ties together but, in the grand scheme, none of them matter. It shows a dark underbelly to Andrew and his mental state, as well as his battles with numerous STDs.
Overall, Ten Hours is an outstanding listen all the way through. Some songs might be a little hard to understand upon their first listen, but after a few spins everything clicks. This is a hard record to listen to without getting emotional, so for those with a weak heart it is best to stay away.
Andrew and Rob have created a work so perfect and so unique that it will be hard to top this in the withering months of 2018.