Review Summary: Makari takes everything they've learned on past endeavors and packages it up in the form of "Hyperreal" to release their best set of music ever written as a band.
For anyone that’s followed Makari, they would know that they’ve gone through a lot of lineup changes since first forming several years ago. Including several vocalists (counting Spencer Pearson, former clean vocalist of Rise Records band Decoder) and a pianist, they can easily be compared to Dance Gavin Dance in terms of their ability to rise up after experiencing these kinds of fallbacks. As far as sound goes, they’ve been likened by many of their fans as falling under the subgenre playfully known as Swancore that Dance Gavin Dance initially sparked. Although, I personally feel like Makari rather resides in their own niche of rock that has the tendency of preferring feeling over the complexity that’s so commonly cherished in Swancore. This isn’t to say that they don’t utilize any progressive aspects or fretboard shredding. But, more often than not, they tend to stick with simpler song structures and let their strong knack for melody and ambiance shine through instead. While these aspects aren’t always enough to elevate songs to the heights they could be, they still do a pretty good job overall at crafting their first full length album as a band.
As a group that’s thrived off of creating eps’ instead of full length albums, I unfortunately can’t be too surprised though that there’s some filler and differing song quality found on their first release with more than 7 tracks. For “Hyperreal”, the lowest example of this takes place with the song “Seasons”. While not offensively terrible of a track by any means, it stands pretty drab compared to the others and doesn’t bring anything interesting or fun to the table. Thankfully though, “Seasons” seems to be located at the bottom of the bucket as far as what’s found on the album. Even the other songs that aren’t as instrumentally proficient have incredibly catchy melodies courtesy of vocalist Andy Cizek that make listening an enjoyable experience. One thing Andy does exceptionally well on this album as well is performing various backing vocal melodies throughout many of the tracks. These added parts produce a pleasant fuller sound that would have been a welcome addition in Makari’s older discography that sometimes felt like it was missing something.
Previous to joining Makari, vocalist Andy Cizek had been quietly making a name for himself the last few years by performing as the vocalist of post-hardcore band WVNDER and releasing solo covers of various songs on his YouTube channel. Although I’ve enjoyed some of his work with these two projects, I found that many of his vocal performances didn’t do much to differentiate themselves from the countless other people on YouTube doing covers in their bedrooms. Thankfully that isn’t the case whatsoever on his Makari debut. Benefiting from some better vocal production and an improved knack for writing melodies and lyrics, this album comes off as culmination of all his efforts up to this point as a vocalist. There’s parts throughout “Hyperreal” where I even find myself making comparisons to Tilian Pearson with the wide range and control he exhibits with his voice. While he decides to forgo any of the heavier vocals he utilized in WVNDER as well, I find they’re better off for it as I’ve never seen Makari benefiting too much from those kind of vocals that would only make the band blend in more with their peers.
One other key part of this album that sets the band apart from others in the post-hardcore scene is their guitar work. Instead of resorting to breakdowns or fretboard wankery like found in Swancore, Makari tends to focus on an almost ambient/ethereal sort of style that flourishes with the slight reverb found on many of their riffs. Although technicality is found throughout their passages, melody seems to be the main focus as is evident in songs like “Hyperreal” and “No Longer”. This goes on to benefit the group largely as the guitarists hold their own instead of relying on the vocalist to pull all the weight. As a longtime listener of the band as well, I find this to be their first release where I don’t consistently think to myself how there almost seems to be a guitar part missing from the mix.
Before ending my discussion on this album, I feel like I have to bring up the three singles they released beforehand due to how each of them stands as easily the best songs the band has ever written up until this point. While a majority of “Hyperreal” is generally pretty solid, its three singles far outweigh the others in terms of songwriting and memorability. I still remember hearing the first single “Control” when it initially came out and thinking how I couldn’t believe that Makari was capable of writing a song that good. And I was even more surprised when their next two singles exceeded the first by utilizing ambient elements that really accented their sound and reached epic heights when Andy’s vocals were thrown over top. Although, the album unfortunately does dip in quality and never quite reaches the memorability of these three songs again, they still do a great job of creating a finished product with lots to offer anyone that takes the time to listen. My only suggestion to the band going forward is that they work harder on their next release to cut off more of the fat and delve deeper into the instrumental elements found on tracks like “Hyperreal” that make them stand out.
This is only my second review on here, so any tips on what could be better would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to anyone that takes the time to read it as well!