Review Summary: Maybe they should collapse more often…
For those of you who have journeyed through the post-hardcore soundscape since the mid-2000s, you will remember Sleeping With Sirens as a fairly forgettable five-piece band that emerged in the early 2010s on the heels of groups such as Saosin, Pierce The Veil, Silverstein, A Skylit Drive, and Broadway. The problem with such comparisons is that Kellin Quinn and co. weren't very good, and were quickly dismissed by enthusiasts such as myself as leeches who were capitalizing on the aesthetic without having the talent to boot.
That being said
, that unoriginal, uninspired, formulaic debut from Sleeping With Sirens has been, to date, their best
record. You see, despite the sheer shallowness of their songwriting, at least it seemed like they were trying
, and because timing is everything, their debut happened to drop right as that niche of post-hardcore was exploding. So what happened? Sleeping With Sirens’ brand of quasi-breakdowns, punkish verses, and Quinn’s near-androgynous vocals became, well, popular (specifically with the Hot Topic crowd). Result? Sleeping With Sirens turned into a post-cock rock band that churned out a string of releases that were unquestionably bad.
That is, until now. Sort of.
, despite it's title, is ironically a notch better than anything released by this band since their debut. Does that make it good? Not necessarily. It’s still derivative or systematic or [insert synonym here]. What makes it different this time around is that Sleeping With Sirens are finally a tad bit aware of the fact that they are putting out music that is not really original, so some effort has been put into at least making it enjoyable.
The album kicks off with the unremarkable, yet catchy, “Tyrants,” and pretty much keeps the same feel from there. The song structures are all very similar, the breakdowns sound the same, and the lyrics are terrible, but like I said earlier, there is a self-awareness about the music that makes it feel less forced and more fun. It’s as if Sleeping With Sirens stopped trying to make music to only appease a certain mob and are trying to figure out what it means to have fun making music for themselves again.
Probably the unlikeliest and yet most evident improvement is Quinn’s vocal performance. I was genuinely shocked to find his contribution far less annoying than anything I have heard from him thus far. While Quinn still sings in an almost countertenor range, it is not as strained or cringe-worthy as it has been in the past. Furthermore, there are several vocal features such as Spencer Chamberlain on “Crosses,” that add some needed variety. The instrumentals are solid if nothing else, and what they lack in originality, they valiantly attempt at making up for with their energy.
So no, this is no album for serious music. It’s not even really an album for good
music. You might listen to it, and I can almost guarantee that you won't come back to it. But you know what? It’s got its moments, and it’s just barely fun enough to dial out the internal music connoisseur a little bit and enjoy it for what it’s worth.