Review Summary: Not mad, not surprised, just disappointed
To be completely honest, I’m glad Silverstein finally made A Beautiful Place to Drown
. I’m glad it’s out. Ever since, well, 2005’s Discovering The Waterfront, the band’s bouncy, catchy songs always seem to have garnered the most collective interest. While critics praised the likes of heavier and/or more experimental cuts such as ‘Medication’ or the incredible ‘In A Place of Solace’, the band kept pushing further and further into pop-territory, coming up with one of their most streamed tracks on previous record Dead Reflection
: ‘The Afterglow’. Not a bad
song by any means, it appeared to be the final push Silverstein needed to get all their pop frustrations out of their system, and here we are: this very album was born.
Keeping up with the birthing-imagery, I feel like a parent. Not mad, not surprised, just disappointed. Mostly disappointed considering the fact that Silverstein has shown their ability to craft a clever, catchy hook many times before. Lead single ‘Burn it Down’ brilliantly rhymes ‘down’ with ‘down’ and then proceeds to repeat the word ‘down’ a few more times for good measure. Similar awkward songwriting hiccups show up all over the record: ‘Shape Shift’s chorus sounds like someone who hasn’t quite grasped the concept of full stops yet and just randomly inserts them into sentences. ‘Infinite’, pointlessly featuring Aaron Gillespie, falls victim to unnecessary repetition as well, mentioning the word ‘infinite’ six times per chorus, making for quite a boring listen. While vocalist Shane Told has rarely slipped up lyrically, some awkward passages bump this album down a few notches more. 'Say Yes!', for example, provides an unusually juvenile chorus: I don't want anyone else / Can we stay here for a long time?
However, even these sub-par songs still hold up as ‘listenable’ or merely ‘forgettable’: perhaps the only truly awful thing about A Beautiful Place To Drown
is the 2:46 mark of ‘Burn It Down’, where featured Beartooth vocalist Caleb Shomo provides an inexplicably shaky yell, sounding about as tired as the song’s chorus. How this take ever made it through the mixing process is a miracle, especially considering how crisp everything else sounds. Guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau remains the best part of the band, laying down some catchy riffs on most tracks where he’s given a chance to shine. Especially album highlight ‘Madness’ shows him on top of his game, with the chorus coming close to being of the classic, irresistibly catchy Silverstein quality, something painfully lacking on this album. Most surprisingly, however, is the fact that Princess Nokia’s guest vocals are the best ones on the entire record (which contains way too many pointless features). Adding a strange nu-metal esque layer to the song, her voice beautifully contrasts Shane’s screams.
Even with ‘September 14th’ not being much more than a lite-version of their own song ‘A Better Place’ and closer ‘Take What You Give’ taking the risk of boring listeners to death, A Beautiful Place to Drown
is not a bad album. This seems like the record this band has been wanting to make for several years now, and, for better or for worse, it’s here. If anything, this album gives me hope that in two years time a reinvigorated Silverstein will present us a much better project. Until then, this album functions as a placeholder to remind you that the band are planning on staying for a long time (if you just Say Yes!).