Review Summary: Top notch emotional hardcore only let down by a few self indulgent softer numbers.
Although Planes Mistaken For Stars' (Planes for short) musical direction is wholly different to what they started as, one thing that has stayed the same is the intensity and emotion they capture in their songs, the former is especially prevalent in their later releases. Now those words get thrown around a lot when talking about hardcore/emo, but Planes manage to truly capture those two adjectives in every single song.
From the barrage of furious barre chords in opener 'Copper and Stars', it's clear that this isn't your MTV friendly major label emo, granted it's not as intricate or techincal as their predecessors but maybe that is the beauty; thrashed out chords, simple, almost improvised lead lines and a solid rhythm section sound a lot more emotional, sadder perhaps than newer screamo bands. And there's the dreaded word, screamo, no bones about it, this is a screamo album, but the difference with Planes is that they only break out the screaming a few times on this album, leaving it most of the singing to the beautifully crushed voice of guitarist Gared O'Donnell. For example in Somewhere In September, there is three words of screaming, and it's used kind of like a crescendo to plam muted chords, and it sounds great, it's a real carthatic high pitched scream. The screaming is just another layer to the music, and when it makes it's appearances , only adds to the intensity. The aforementioned voice of Gared is what makes the album, his voice is what's needed for this type of album; quiet, scratchy, it really matches the frequent arppegios that litter the songs. At a few times over the course of the album, he holds notes for a impressive amount of time and it doesn't sound tuneless, it only serves as an partner to the music.
Now, the album centerpiece for me is the incredible 'The Past Two', starting out with a superb layered guitar intro, you know you're in for a ride. The intro is fantastic, it's almost broken up into segments, the rhythm changes frequently before firing back with the screamed/sung line of 'I SWEAR'. The song breaks down to simple, glassy leads and these are gorgeous, they almost sound improvised. The song has a very I Hate Myself feel to it, in that it doesn't have much structure until the screaming parts. The lyrics in this song are some of the best on the album. 'Even if you spun cartwheels with sparklers in your hands, it wouldn't be enough for me' Gared sings, before lamenting 'December killed the best of me...'
The downside to this album is the repitition. A lot of songs feature an arpeggio towards the end with a single line sung over the top, because of this a lot of the songs sound the same (espcecially the endings of The Past Two and Copper And Stars), or they tend to drag a bit on the softer songs which is a real shame because it's an otherwise great album.
Highlights: The Past Two, Copper and Stars, Division, Somewhere In September
Thanks for reading and i hope you enjoyed it.