Off Road Minivan
May This Keep You Safe From Harm


4.5
superb

Review

by KillingMoon USER (5 Reviews)
June 27th, 2023 | 5 replies


Release Date: 06/23/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "It never gets easier...to let you go..."

How would you describe your feelings of loss, trauma, separation, and willingness to move on? Everyone has their different ideas and ways of describing these events based on their own life experience, but could you say everyone can articulate those feelings accurately or put those emotions perfectly on display for others to see? Not likely. Communicating those emotions is an art within itself. Yet, Off Road Minivan's sophomore effort "May This Keep You Safe From Harm" shows all the emotions it wants you to feel and then some.

Off Road Minivan consists of Ryan “Tuck” O’Leary, Evan Garcia Renart, Miles Taylour Sweeny, and Mike Planko. And while many would see this group as a smaller side project from Ryan O'Leary separate from the metalcore effort “Fit For a King”, Off Road Minivan have laid grounds and foundations for themselves that could truly lead them to bigger venues and a greater fanbase than what they might have anticipated. It's one thing to say that another alt-rock side project has risen from the dirt to exist, and then it's one thing to say that this group is worth existing at the top of one of the highest hills. Early in the band's existence they dropped their debut LP titled "Swan Dive" which proved to be a strong entrance into what this group was capable of as far as the alt-rock genre goes. Including tracks such as 'Spiral Gaze', 'Vampire' and 'Supernova'. Tracks that evoke the emo alt-rock sound to the nth degree. Yet they're not overly cumbersome to the ears, but enjoyable enough to find it hard to have any distaste in what you're hearing. Now step into "May This Keep You Safe From Harm", an album that is a major step up from their previous project. Where from the opening of the album, a piano ballad comes through with honest lyrics such as:

I broke your heart
Said I'm sorry but that doesn't mean
much from a liar like me


This prepares you for the brutal honesty that is about to hit you in this LP. And while piano ballads are like a staple since The Beatles claimed song structure, it's hard not to be engrossed by an intro that starts with piano and then completely shifts into a pop-punk segment that makes you want to jump around like you agree with relationships broken up by toxicity. And now while the album pushes on, the track 'Basement', a tribute to Tuck's late friend Alex, starts with another piano part that leads into pop-rock emo glory. And while this could be viewed as another tiresome pop-rock track that fades into existence, but with a structure that holds strong to the closest major key and that doesn't overplay the clichés, it turns out to be a standout track amongst the album. It's in no way overbearing, but that type of enjoyable to where you can sing it with all your friends as you shout the lyrics out of your almost broken-down station wagon.

'The Beacon' continues to display pure honesty in the way of remembering all the times you felt spent. Where you're broken in separation from your partner, but you can't help but see all the flaws they had, and how much you couldn't move passed them. Yet the track ends with whispers of: "Stop feeling sorry for yourself." In other words, move on. Because this album is still pushing on and you have to keep up. Leading us into 'Pity Sex', where core influences abound with heavy guitar riffs and ominous guitar leads that sound like a spiral into insanity. Certainly, a break from the more alternative sound that the band started with, but not too far from the normal emo convention. Especially with lyrics in the bridge such as:

Damned if I do damned if I don't
Every day on Earth is the hell I chose
But I'll never put the blame on me
No I'll never put the blame on me


'The Breakdown' continues this same energy with soaring vocal repetitions from Tuck as he screams out his frustrations. Where you find out that you were only as good as second place to who you claimed to be your world. You're not nearly as important as you thought you were, and living in a world forever without them seems bleak and full of gloom, hence, you break down. And realize that the overwhelming refrain in the back of your mind is coming true: "When there's nothing left to give, I'll give you away." 'Karma' offers a break from the high-gain guitar distortion for softer piano balladry. A contrast to help better paint the picture of grief and separation that this LP is pushing towards you. While 'Cheerleader' ramps back up the intensity with an emotional chorus that rips you apart like throwing your heart through a shredder. The exhausting pain felt through Tuck's screams is honestly tear-jerking. Like holding out your hand to someone trying to grasp them before they slip through the cracks. It's to memorialize one of Tuck's dear friends who passed away due to cancer. And it's a stunner worthy of that purpose.

'Victim Complex' speaks for itself. Where your close friend you've had for years constantly plays the victim card for their own self-gain. You don't know why you put up with it, but you do try and keep things connected and kosher, even if it's to your own detriment. 'Out Alive' is very similar to 'The Beacon' in terms of guitar work, where melody and distortion mesh together to make a pleasant alt-rock track offering catchy lyrics in the chorus. Nothing new or mind-blowing here but very enjoyable for the average alt-rock fan. 'Billy' allows for another piano break to calm your alt-rock nerves and listen to some awfully soothing lyrics that reference the great Billy Idol. Clever lyricism posed with Tuck's vocal talent is such a treat on this track, and it adds more life to the overall project. 'Commitment Issues' and 'It's Nothing Personal' wrap things up with the same line of thought: "I don't need you. And you don't need me. But it never gets easier...to let you go..."

Subject of loss and tragedy is nothing new for Off Road Minivan, but it's another thing to completely focus on letting go of that hurt. You can wallow in your tragedies for years and years if you wanted to. But growth is found in grieving and moving on, and that's what's exemplified in this album. Tuck elaborates: “I hope you call your parents and say you love them and call the person you hate or are having problems with and say, ‘I’m done’. You deserve better. This was me putting a standard out there for myself. I hope you do the same and experience a little healing and solace by letting go of what hurts you.”

This album is an honest reflection of someone's deep pain, and it was put out in the world for us to enjoy. Along with small personal voice recordings sprinkled throughout the album that add to that atmosphere of that pain and grief. It's a small gem that maybe not everyone will have a chance to listen to, but I assure you that it's worth every second of your time. While not perfect, it's beautiful. And the album name "May This Keep You Safe From Harm" coming from a metal bible cover that could stop a bullet is ironically poetic in the sense of trying to avert tragedy in life. It's inevitable but manageable. And in conclusion for whoever reads this, I hope you continue to cope and to finally let go of the hurt you carry. It never gets easier letting go, but when you do...you'll be all the better for it.


user ratings (17)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
KillingMoon
June 27th 2023


117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I had this at a 4, but after some listens and thoughts...yeah I changed my mind.

BallsToTheWall
June 28th 2023


51289 Comments


The corpse paint on the video is as hilarious, great song.

BallsToTheWall
June 28th 2023


51289 Comments


Also great review and ending line.

Purpl3Spartan
June 28th 2023


8781 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good album nice rev



Tuck’s vocals have improved so much

KillingMoon
June 28th 2023


117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@BallsToTheWall - I know right? I chuckled and thought the video fit pretty well with the song. And thanks I felt like the line reflected what the album was going for well enough.



@Purpl3Spartan - Thanks! I appreciate it! 100% he's gotten way more confident with his voice for sure.



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