Review Summary: I do not want this body.
Last we left our intrepid lady and djentlemen, they had just released their Tesseract-worshipping debut that left us all weak in the knees and readjusting our wigs. One year later, our heroes are back with a new batch of singles (all accompanied by spiffy music videos) and are ready to dish out the damage once again, but is it just the same old song?
The most striking difference that becomes readily apparent is a greater sense of immediacy, as well as a general toning down of the broody, dark, artsy-fartsiness that so permeated the last release. By comparison, some of these songs could almost be described as… well, upbeat. Opener Perennial couples the band’s larger-than-life grooves with LaPlante’s soaring vocals, but it’s not quite the usual Spiritbox assault on the senses. The result is actually rather bright and life-affirming, while the poppy, sing-songy Trust Fall is practically warm to the touch, wrapping you in its post-rock embrace until the climax where the music falls away, leaving not one, not two, but THREE (count ‘em) Courtneys harmonizing sublimely over each other, creating a spell-binding wall of sound comprised solely of her layered, heavenly vocals.
But don’t dejectedly throw that neck-brace away just yet, you're going to need it because the old familiar darkness still lurks in the peripheral. Stringer’s whiplash-inducing riffs on Belcarra and Bleach Bath are thicc and will have your poor brain bouncing around in your skull, while LaPlante deftly displays her range, shifting on a dime from crooning a haunted lullaby to shredding her vocal chords like a cornered beast. But the real crowning jewel here has to be the ultra-heavy second single, Electric Cross. From the urgent, roid-ed out bass licks that open the track, to the violent, hypnotic wall of noise that closes it out, it’s an exhilarating roller-coaster ride of a song that will leave your neck muscles mulched.
Although this release isn’t quite as atmospheric and introspectively grim as the S/T, it's more than a satisfying follow-up in spite of opting for a more mainstream-friendly approach. Spiritbox has proven once again that they are the most exciting new band in the scene and that they have the juice to take over the world. Now all we really need is an album announcement and some tour dates, and for more people to catch on.