Stellar Young
Vessels


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
May 14th, 2020 | 8 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A thing of beauty...

Vessels is a fairly standard indie-rock album by nature. It is built loosely around the same aesthetics that have defined the genre for years – mellow percussion, tempo-driving guitars, thoughtful vocals, etc. What truly elevates Vessels, however, is the dynamic musicianship on display. John Glenn’s passionate vocals, Curt Mulick’s tempo-driving percussion, Erik Flora’s/Kyle Hatch’s dual guitar duties, and Dave Parker’s subtle bass undertones all function together like one well-oiled machine. Every song on the album blends their strengths together flawlessly, yet there are still plenty of solos and other stand-alone moments that demonstrate the ingenuity of each individual. Opener and obvious highlight ‘The Reunion’ features a little bit of everything, beginning as a percussion and vocal-driven affair elevated by hopeful lyrics like “just go a little further” and “learning how to finally live our lives” before culminating in Flora’s well-placed guitar solo. As if that wasn’t enough, Flora immediately announces his presence on the riff-driven rocker of a follow up, ‘Hitting Reset’ – a track overflowing with reverberated electric guitar and Mulick’s impressive drum fills. All the while, Glenn continues his near-flawless vocal delivery with a series of overarching ooh-oohs that lend ‘Hitting Reset’ just the right amount of atmosphere. At times it feels like they’re all trying to outdo one another, but it’s happening in the best way possible because nothing ever approaches the sensation of being disjointed. When a band demonstrates this much chemistry, it’s a thing of beauty.

For a guitar-heavy indie rock outing, Vessels is surprisingly content dwelling in the mid-tempo. Stellar Young exhibits remarkable restraint, knowing just when to kick things up a notch as well as when to dial it down, in the process achieving a remarkable blend of paces, styles, and song structures. It would be easy to compare their approach to The Boxer Rebellion, if you take a percentage of that band’s ambient atmosphere and trade it in for more of an upbeat, rock-oriented approach. ‘Box of Echoes’, ‘Nomad’, and ‘We Got Away’ are all case-in-point examples, featuring stunning atmospheres (mostly courtesy of Glenn’s dream-like vocals and soft inflections) intertwined with a blend of electric and acoustic guitars. Sometimes everything mixes together so well that, as the album maintains its mostly steady pace, it can all end up sounding a little similar. However, these instances typically don’t last longer than a couple of tracks before the band introduces something totally unique and interesting to recapture your attention.

Although the mid-tempo rocker appears to be the band’s forte, there are still plenty of instances in which they exercise their ability to go well beyond – in either a heavier or softer direction. While ‘Hitting Reset’ covers the best of the former, there’s a slew of tracks vying to be the highlight of the latter. ‘Former Life’ comes to mind as the most likely candidate due to its sheer scope – an off-beat, rhythmic introduction, a gradual buildup through the drumming, beautiful falsetto vocals, and intermittent, exploratory riffs that all erupt together in an explosion of splendor during the song’s final minute. Alongside ‘The Reunion’, it stands out as one of the best songs on Vessels – a feat that, the more and more you listen, begins to reveal itself as quite the towering accomplishment. ‘Little Specs’ is another slower track that demands to be recognized, separating itself with whistle-mimicking acoustic guitar picking that very gradually builds up to a heavier percussive presence before fading back into silence. There’s plenty of rise-and-fall on Vessels, and it plays out in such a way that the album ends up flowing with impeccable structure and unparalleled grace.

In all of its energy and earnestness, Vessels just has a way of making indie-rock records of a similar mold sound uninspired and completely unemotional. Some artists make music because it is their career – they’re fairly detached from the whole experience, and view it as an item to be crafted and sold for public entertainment and personal profit. Others use it to convey their introverted side, pouring personal experiences and emotional weight into their product without much regard as to how it is perceived. Then there are those who make music with a vast, underlying purpose. The vocals project confidence. The instrumental components propel the lyrics forth like messages that need to be heard. There’s this sense that the creators behind the music love what they do, and want to spread that feeling to anyone who is willing to listen. That’s the category that Vessels falls into, and somehow someway, it always seems to be exactly what I need to hear.



s
Recent reviews by this author
The Republic Tigers Mind Over MatterModern Nature Annual
Taylor Swift ReputationFather John Misty Pure Comedy
Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!Motion City Soundtrack Go
user ratings (4)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
May 15th 2020


34550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So there's an interesting backstory behind this. I wrote this review in 2014 with every intent to publish it at that time. I must have emailed it to myself from a separate device to publish on my home computer --- and then I totally forgot about it for 6 years. I guess this is what happens when you purge your inbox. Only two other people on the site have heard this besides me, and that's a crime. Band/album is pretty great.

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 4

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
May 15th 2020


9618 Comments


Hmmmmmm will check

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 4

Skoop
May 15th 2020


2172 Comments


Wow I remember this

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2020


1619 Comments


weird that this shows up in the staff section since it came out in 2014. ah well good to see a classic sowing review a few years late.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 15th 2020


34550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks! I had this discussion in another thread somewhere, but what I think happened is that mx implemented a change in 2015 that all staff reviews more than 1 year old would show in the user section. For some reason or another, it does not factor in that the present year changes, so now anything prior to 2014 shows up in the user section and anything 2014 or more recent still gets placed up top. That's my best theory, anyway!

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2020


1619 Comments


lol jesus

solongatlast
May 15th 2020


348 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I was wondering why you randomly reviewed this.



This album is special, glad to see somebody agrees.

po0ty
May 16th 2020


625 Comments


Forgot about this band, Everything at Once is great too



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy