Review Summary: Following up their most recent album, I See Stars returns with another acoustic rendition collection that finds them re-imagining their songs in unique and memorable ways.
After facing criticism from a noticeable portion of their fan base for releasing an acoustic album several years prior to this, I See Stars have decided to disregard any negativity and release a follow-up with acoustic renditions of their most recent album “Treehouse”. Although many fans have disagreed with the stylistic changes and made the claim that they are a band that needs to stay within the confines of a box full of synth breakdowns and down-tuned electric guitars, I find myself happy that they’ve decided to make another release like this as I was personally a big fan of their last one. “Phases” unfortunately did have some parts here and there where the songs didn’t translate well to acoustic, but it at least showed a band that was willing to experiment and try something new. Thankfully, “Treehouse (Acoustic)” finds the band further perfecting this process and releasing another diverse set of acoustic tracks.
When it comes to post-hardcore and metalcore bands releasing acoustic versions of their most popular songs, I’ve found that they generally come off as cash grabs that the band put together at the last second with not much thought. A few exceptions to this are groups like Emarosa and Hands Like Houses that have gone through the process of re-imagining their songs rather than simply replacing an electric guitar with an acoustic one and singing over it. I See Stars follows this path well as they find themselves changing around some of their song structures, adding new orchestral instrumentals, and making other various changes. All of these additions do a great job of giving the songs new life and make them strong enough that even listeners who aren’t familiar with the originals can still get a lot of enjoyment out of them.
Anyone who’s even faintly familiar with I See Stars is probably aware of their vocalist, Devin Oliver, who is known for his wide range that has the tendency of breaching into the whiny territory at times. Thankfully for everyone that has partially outgrown the ever popular whiny vocals found so prevalent in mid-2000’s post-hardcore, Devin has evolved as a vocalist and only marginal traces of his whiny antics can be found throughout the e.p. While still frequently pushing his voice to reach some pretty high notes, he also adds in a lot of diversity to reach lower ranges with various style as well. Although none of his vocals come off as memorable as his previous acoustic cover of “Youth” by Daughter, he still provides a solid performance and always does a terrific job at matching the diverse moods found throughout each track.
As I mentioned earlier in this review, what I See Stars has done on this e.p. has largely been a process of re-imagining what they’ve already created. Although this can be somewhat of a daunting task for many bands, I See Stars has fully embraced it and used it as an opportunity to try out new styles they couldn’t before. For example, “Two Hearted” finds the band adding a folksy sort of vibe to the reworked song while ‘White Lies” implements an acoustic piano driven track with some ambient elements that makes for a song as unique as the original. Listening through the entire track list, I find a hard time making any criticisms when none of the songs come off as bare-boned or contrived. I only hope that once they finally come out with new music that another acoustic rendition collection will follow afterwards. Until then, I’ll just find myself occasionally coming back to this album and the rest of their ever growing discography.
I've had most of this written up for ages and finally decided that it needed to be completed and uploaded. For anyone who takes the time to read this, thank you and feel free to let me know your thoughts if you have the time!