Review Summary: Swimming with the current
Before listening to Past Lives
, if one listens to Against the Current's discography chronologically (and disregards the countless number of cover songs they've posted on Youtube), they'll notice that on their debut EP Infinity
, the band could undoubtedly be classified as pop-rock, even carrying some pop-punk tendencies. On their follow-up EP Gravity
, although they still favor guitar-driven melodies, there is a noticeable increased use of keyboards, as well as songs that run at a slower tempo. On their debut LP In Our Bones
, the guitar-work is either working in tandem with, or taking a backseat to the keyboards and the synthesizers that Chrissy Costanza sings over. Although still keeping within the scope of pop-rock, Against the Current moved gradually from the "rock" side, more over the "pop" side.
On Past Lives
, Against the Current continues in this direction to the very edge of the pop side of pop-rock, to the point where it is debatable if this is not just simply a pop album. Nearly all of the music is produced by synthesizers, with programmed drum-beats and very little guitar-playing. I do not mean to imply, however, that this makes the music inherently bad (although it will to some people). I just aim to give a heads up to any readers of this review who may only be familiar with Against the Current's cover songs or earlier releases, that the band's rock roots have all but dried up.
I believe this transition into a poppier sound is the band's way of emphasizing Chrissy's vocals as the focal point of the music, which is a great play to strengths that I agree with them doing (Hi, Paramore). Although the lyrics can be very simplistic at times – generally just musings about relationships and love lost – Chrissy creates catchy choruses seemingly with ease, and sings with a pouty finesse that is every bit endearing. And no matter what mood she's going for – whether it a be a darker, more serious tone such as on Personal
, or the proud air in which she sings the every-girl's anthem P.A.T.T.
(strong Boy Problems
vibes on this track) – Daniel and William are there to provide the appropriate synth-beats and instrumentation for their girl.
has been, and will continue to be, the make or break album between Against the Current and their fans. Anyone who likes the band's older music, and also enjoys this full immersion in to the realm of pop, will presumably stick with this band for the long haul. For previous fans who are turned off by Past Lives
, unless Against the Current decide to pick up the guitars again, there probably won't be much to look forward to anymore. For me personally, I just want to know if they will continue to get poppier in future, if that's even possible.