Review Summary: A welcoming change of pace.
Over the past couple of years, Red Vox brought a variety of enjoyable alternative rock songs on albums like "Another Light" and "What Could Go Wrong". Instrumentally energetic and depressing as those records are, they take a new direction with how things are handled on their third studio album "Kerosene". Slowing things down a bit, but not to a crawl. A more comforting sound surrounds this record, but with the usually depressive vocal approach to go along with it. Their direction may have changed, but their artistic vision remains untouched. You'll find yourself in a soundscape that, at times, is pretty similar sounding material to the likes of Vinny's solo record "Room To Breathe" with how the lush synths and guitar arrangements compliment each other on tracks like "Define Me". The acoustic compositions are definitely the strongest part of the album as the band masterfully crafts a musical identity that matches how somber the lyrics can get. Contrast to its gloomy nature, however, Red Vox isn't afraid to throw you a curveball. "Hungry Ghost" progressively ramps things up from a spacey trip into an animated acoustic section throughout the rest of the song (Which can also be applicable to "Heavy Little Heart" to some extent). The synths and the inherently depressing vocals match the more down-to-earth instrumentation Vinny and company bring along.
It seems that Red Vox has gained their bearings on what sound they want to encompass but vocally, however, is where the album falters a bit. The breathe-y tone of voice fits with the instrumentation and overall vibe of the record, but when it comes to hitting those notes at times, the vocal pitch is a bit off-putting. On the title track "Kerosene", lyrically, its pretty engaging, but the choruses low-to-high notes seem to contrast the verses. The track "Heavy Little Heart" also falls under this category with some odd placements of vocal pitch shifts throughout the verse and choruses. Despite its shortcomings, it definitely has enough high points to make up for it. The strongest song here seems to be "Running to Forget" with its echoing acoustics and well-mixed lyricism. As it radiates a pleasing and psychedelic atmosphere, it effectively envelopes the listener as it progresses through the song. The following song "Never Gonna Win" continues this trend and makes for a fitting successor to the aforementioned track. And to wrap things up on the record, we get the closing track "Cemetary Window". One last thrilling synth-filled rollercoaster before it ultimately dissipates into the ambiance of the unknown.
As it stands, Kerosene serves as a refreshing change of pace from their previous material, but not in a clashing manner. The tonal shift from their foregoing records to this new direction seems fitting considering the heartbreaking vocal tone and heartfelt guitar arrangements. Songs have a noticeable diversity from each other and have their own unique identity whilst inheriting a cohesive structure. Combination of synths and acoustics especially spiced things up for the better. Although it could use some touching up in the vocal department, it brings some outstanding, and psychedelic musical ideas to the table. A welcoming addition to their continuously expanding discography.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Standout Tracks: Define Me, Running to Forget, Hungry Ghost, Cemetary Window