Sleeping With Sirens

With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear

Written by: BL on 17/04/2010 03:31:54

With all the bad press that screamo/post-hardcore has been getting lately, some of which is very much entirely justified (but of which I am not here to discuss) and not to mention Rise Records now being a scapegoat for the same negative critics for signing most of the flock of bands, one would be forgiven for not even giving Sleeping With Sirens a chance just by glancing on their myspace - complete with a scenester pretty boy band picture and a fresh Rise Records signature. For those that might stay though, Sleeping With Sirens does offer something fairly unique that makes their debut record "With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear" worth checking out at least. I am talking about the band's unique (at least the most) vocalist, Kellin Quinn.

High pitched singers in this genre are generally everywhere (loathe or love as you like), and to be honest even the extreme ranges aren't uncommon in more known bands either. You have your Anthony Greens, Craig Owens and then there's Misha from Broadway and Jagmin from A Skylit Drive to name just a few. Kellin has a voice range much like the named vocalists, he can hit some unreal heavenly high notes but when he does his tone occasionally has an almost Jonny Craig coarseness to it. He can scream pretty well too and for the most part it's piercing, sharp and actually strong enough to hold his ground without sounding generic or descending into brootal territory. Overall Kellin adds so much to otherwise very tread waters and even carries certain tracks alone. However high pitched vocalists are always an acquired taste and Kellin is no exception, as in if you can't stand the idea of them then there's a very good chance you probably won't be able to stomach the balls-defying-gravity vocal work on display here (as impressive as it is if you ask me).

The rest of the band actually seem pretty above average from a technical standpoint. There's a consistent barrage of tasteful (if not slightly similar) lead guitars that twist and sweep, notes ringing and just leaving a tingle on your ears. The occasional breakdowns that appear aren't too overbearing thankfully and with the exception of the weakest proper track "Captain Tyin Knots Vs Mr Walkway (No Way)", fit into the songs well enough to be enjoyable mostly. Elsewhere the rhythm section is pretty solid with some decent drum work and a bass guitar that actually rumbles louder than any other recent post-hardcore band I can recall. Everything is wrapped up in a glistening production (not to the extent of anything by Joey Sturgis however) like a colourful candy wrapper. Obviously at the end of the day though the band isn't going to win any accolades in the instrumental department because simply most of it is fairly reminiscent of a combination of Broadway, Emarosa and very old A Skylit Drive - only just a tiny bit heavier in places.

I've talked about proper tracks just above and this is a critical issue with this record. There are ten tracks in total, however the final track is a short instrumental outro. While it certainly isn't the worst thing ever I would have rather had it, and it should have if anything, been a part of the previous track (or just not present). That brings that actual track number down to nine. But then "Don't Fall Asleep At The Helm" is mostly a short electronic instrumental track that Kellin sings over softly, which being a more of a interlude track if anything, further decreases the count down to eight. Eight whole tracks? that's is just simply far too short by any album standards and left me feeling like it was over far too soon. If we even go on to mention that "Captain Tyin Knots Vs Mr Walkway (No Way)" isn't really on the same standard as the other seven tracks left too because it features an extremely forced feeling of increased heaviness, a pointless breakdown with pointless electronics and an even more pointless guest appearance from Dave of We Came As Romans (the screamer), on a bad day I'd be more annoyed.

However the saving grace is that the remaining seven tracks, in particular the ones I've named below, are great catchy songs in my opinion. Okay sure for the most part they rely heavily on Kellin to really keep you captivated (or repulsed for that matter) since the instrumentals are mostly (good-grade) cookie cutter, but the hooks are great (the main lead vocal line in "The Left Side Of Everywhere" and the outro to "If I'm James Dean..." are very prominent examples) and I had a few of the choruses stuck in my head for days. I should think that if you like the sound of what you've read and consider yourself interested then do check this record out. I see lots of potential for this band to now go places, and hopefully put out a followup record that for a start is longer than your average TV episode, as short and sweet (mostly) as this one is right now.


Download: If I'm James Dean, You're Audrey Hepburn, With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear, The Left Side Of Everywhere
For the fans of: Broadway, Emarosa, A Skylit Drive (pre-Adelphia)
Listen: Myspace

Release date 23.03.2010
Rise Records

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