Pierce The Veil

Selfish Machines

Written by: TL on 01/08/2010 22:58:06

I always knew I'd have some explaining to do when Pierce The Veil got around to releasing a new album. "A Flair For The Dramatic", the band's first album after changing their name from Before Today, is to date the only record I ever gave a full 10 and in fact the only release out of three or four that I've heard over the last decade, that I felt deserved such a grade. Anyone who read that review have probably considered me a bit bonkers ever since, and meanwhile, I've wondered myself if I gave the grade out of inexperience or youthful over-excitement or some such thing. However, every time I hear the album, I know exactly why it's so good, and I can't for the life of me understand why I'm probably part of a disappearingly small minority that thinks so.

Sure, I get why people aren't taken in immediately. Main man Victor Fuentes has a child-like croon (think Johnny Whitney meets Claudio Sanchez) that can probably cut through glass, and a fair share of folk will likely be put off by either that, or the introduction of elements both poppy and theatrical into a foundation mixed of punk and post-hardcore... But you need to forget about that for just one second. Forget about what you normally expect to hear from any rock sub-genre. Forget about how Pierce The Veil are (mistakingly) lumped together with generic scenecore bands by the boatloads. Forget even what you normally think you like in terms of sounds and styles. Forget such things and try to wrap your head around a band that sounds - here on new album "Selfish Machines" just as on the prior - like no other band on this earth.

Pierce The Veil are unique for the reason that the already strange mixture of things I mentioned above, are all featured in compositions that are essentially more progressive than anything you'll hear in any genre attributed to this band, while textured with all the tricks of a pop studio-production. Allow me to exemplify this by walking you through - not the album - just two songs, "Southern Constellations" and the track to which it is basically an intro "The Boy Who Could Fly". Part A - Things start of with tender, layered singing, over gentle guitar chords, only to gradually slide into: Part B - An entropic punk riff, rapid-fired on top of frantic drumming, scaling up until: Part C - A retardedly catchy chorus that would sound as silky as an R'n'B song, if it weren't for guitars 1 and 2, respectively engaging in a slowly pounding breakdown and a ridiculous tapped solo. *catch your breath here*. Part D - The drums pick up to car chase speed again, while the lead guitar goes all out in blazing soloing, while more layered vocals lead you into: Part E - Basically a second verse, except the guitars are doing something entirely else than in the first verse, and chimy keys have arrived to set a lullaby-ish mood. Repeat "Part C", as the chorus seems the only part of any song that PTV are ever willing to repeat. Part F - Guitars now ring on the verge of discord while Fuentes uses vocal effects to create a call/response dynamic with himself. The second guitar gradually comes pounding in again, ready for: Part G - A gradually changing breakdown which doesn't overstay its welcome because: Part C - ...comes back to remind you that, yes, you are still listening to the same song. No worries, you're at the end now though, because after that: Part H - only forms an outro of weird, eerie guitar sounds.


I know that might have been excessive, but let me hammer the point home here. This is no centrepiece of the album. This is no progressive one-shot master piece. It's just one of the songs on a Pierce The Veil album called "Selfish Machines" and it isn't really any more intricate than the majority of the other songs. Now consider that most songs you hear in both rock and pop are basically three parts repeated in a structure that goes mostly "A-B-A-B-C-B", give or take an intro or outro. Pierce The Veil went A-B-C-D-E-C-F-G-C-H at a frenzied pace, in little over seven minutes, and while they were at it, they embedded a chorus in your head that's borderline annoyingly memorable. Now if such intricacy, ambition and originality isn't something that deserves at least your attention, I really don't know what to do with you. Maybe you really are just looking for more reinterpretations of the same stuff you've always liked.

Anyway, I think I've made it clear were I stand, and it seems I should spend at least a paragraph wondering out loud, whether "Selfish Machines" is then also a 10/10 record. It is not, and there are a few reasons for this. The fast, loud, overwhelming songs work like charms, but when it comes to the more tender moments, like on centrepieces "Bulletproof Love" and "Stay Away From My Friends", they just don't measure up to prior efforts like "Wonderless" and "The Balcony Scene". It's party because lyrics (as well as song titles) have become more light-hearted and obvious than they were on the last album, with the simple choruses of "Stay Away From My Friends" and "I Don't Care If You're Contagious" lacking severely in depth and passion compared to album highlights such as the peculiar "to live is just to fall asleep, to die is to awake!" in "Million Dollar Houses (The Painter)". It seems like PTV are about as sick of being misunderstood, as I am for liking them, and have hence gone for an approach that's more forthcoming than introverted, and unfortunately, this costs them a the sense of magic and integrity that the last album had. Still though, trucks could drive by your house daily, filled with new albums of worse quality than the average output of Pierce The Veil, and "Selfish Machines" is merely the second piece of evidence supporting that.

Download: The Boy Who Could Fly, Caraphernalia, The New National Anthem
For The Fans Of: Chiodos, Coheed & Cambria, The Fall Of Troy, Dance Gavin Dance, Alesana
Listen: myspace.com/piercetheveil

Release Date 21.06.2010
Equal Vision

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