Written by Pirata Hermosa
The second album from the five-member band from Nashville, Tennessee will be in stores on July 6th. Having spent the last few years touring with bands like Saving Abel, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Hinder, and Hollywood Undead, the band has had plenty of time to mesh together and come up with a more refined sound with new guitarist Ryan Belcher who took over for Tim Huskinson in 2008.
After just one listening of the album, two things immediately stand out. The first is that the band has a good sound and overall it’s very enjoyable. The second is that you can’t recall what any of the songs actually sounded like. There doesn’t appear to be anything with a real hook, nothing that leaves you humming any of the melodies. In fact, with many of the songs it’s difficult to determine what was the chorus and what were the verses. Thankfully, I was taking notes the first time I played it so I could go back later on and see what my first experience was and if anything changed over subsequent listenings.
"Intro" is just some creepy piano music. It doesn’t really add anything to the album and could have just as easily been the start of track #2. After hearing this a few times, it’s just as easy to skip over it. There has never been an "Intro" that was worth listening to more than a couple of times. "The Promise" is sort of a cross between a Coheed & Cambria song and Fallout Boy but a little slower. It is very guitar-oriented and doesn’t seem to have much of a chorus.
"Wake Up" is finally the first song on the album that has some kind of life. It’s a little more commercial than some of the others and has good vocal harmony. It has a little bit of a Rooney flavor to it. "Bittersweet Sundown" is a decent song, but seems to have an overwhelming large amount of chorus compared to the verses and leaves the song somewhat unbalanced. But after a number of hearings, you might actually find yourself humming this in the grocery store.
"Warzone" is the best song on the album. It was the only song that stuck out even slightly at first. It has a standard verse, bridge, and chorus formation and has lots of stops, starts, and changes throughout. This song just seems to get better and better the more you listen to it. "You Stupid Girl" starts off with a slow, almost whispering style voice where the music sounds darker and could have used a deeper more sinister vocal arrangement. But the tempo quickly picks up and other than the initial vocals, ends up being one of the best songs on the album.
"Weight Of The World" is a little schizophrenic as initially it’s a piano ballad song mixed with acoustic guitar as lead singer Kenneth Nixon sings a love ballad. However, the chorus saves the song when all the electric guitars and drums kick in. It also ends up having the only catchy chorus on the album. "Fool with Dreams" comes across as a really sappy ballad. It’s not a bad song, but there is an added sound effect on the track that sounds like a helicopter throughout the entire song. And that helicopter just seems to stand out more and more each time you listen to it.
"Back To Go Again" sounds like it was written by the Jonas Brothers. It has a very pop sound to it, and when the line “This isn’t a song about candy, but we’re still suckers the same,” is sung you can’t help but think of bubblegum pop music. "Livin’ So Divine" just gets lost on the album. By the time you’ve gotten this far, you really need something to stand out, and it just doesn’t. The only surprise is that you hear the first and only real scream on the album.
"You" is the worst song on the album. It starts off with an acoustic guitar and Nixon singing after he drank a bottle of scotch and gargled some razor blades. The beginning is incredibly painful to listen to. And it doesn’t get better when he decides to sing in his normal voice because the song is very whiney. After just a couple of times of listening to this song, you’ll skip this track every time.
"Photographs and Gasoline" has an interesting flavor to it. It’s got a good sound, a little bit of techno mixed in and if not for its placement between too crappy songs, it might be a little more memorable. Of course, the fact that they tack on a goofy intro for the final song of the album doesn’t help at all either. It’s the sound of someone flicking a lighter, then some piano comes in, and the lines “Jack be nimble/ Jack be quick/ Jack sent to Hell with a candlestick/ oh it will be/ oh it will be a hot time in the old town tonight,” is recited over it.
After listening to the ridiculous intro to "The Burn" and it’s over-the-top orchestral beginning, this song is a huge disappointment. It just comes across as some super-egotistical, pompous song about burning Hollywood to the ground. It leaves you with such a bad taste in your mouth that it’s only bearable to listen to the first couple of times. And it’s too bad, because there is some really good guitar work on it.
The DVD that comes along with the new album says that it’s going to be about the creation of the album and their experience sequestered in Soundmine Recording Studios in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. After watching just a few moments of the band saying that they have nothing to do up there and are just playing some of the songs with no kind of insight or real commentary from anyone, it appears that the DVD is a huge waste of time. But thankfully just as you are about to turn it off it suddenly changes and focuses on the band’s history, previous tours, and even does a short spotlight of each member.
Compared to the first album, it’s obvious to see that the band has come a long way. The music is tighter and much more professional, but at the same time something is lost as it sounds almost over processed and the songs themselves really lack the initial hooks to draw in listeners quickly.
And in the music industry it’s crucial to have that immediate draw. The music is good and the songs will grow on you, but most of the time people give it one listen, and if they aren’t captured by something right away they are going to toss it in the pile and never listen to it again.
Article first published as Music Review: Framing Hanley - A Promise to Burn on Blogcritics.