I See Stars

The End Of The World Party

Written by: BL on 06/09/2011 19:47:11

These days I think its too easy to come to the conclusion that electronic post-hardcore is a fad that should be waning, a handful of bands may still be clinging to combining techno/dance with hardcore breakdowns but a lot have tried moving on in times of late (Attack Attack! and Asking Alexandria for example). I See Stars have typically tried to add more to the genre than less, their debut "3D" was post-hardcore with not just dance electronica, but also large doses of pop rock. Importantly though it was out when the sub genre was still finding its footing in the post-hardcore scene, and as such got the band a lot of attention. The new 2011 followup "The End Of The World Party" ups production values, and while it largely relies on the same kind of content as their debut, there is a noticeable shift in their musical direction.

For one thing everything seems initially a lot poppier. Vocalist Devin Oliver's voice is even higher and more sugary than before and with the occasional auto-tune that pops up, may get a bit too annoying for some despite the fact that he's actually a talented singer. Add this to some new really cringe inducing butter teen moments on this record and one starts to question the motivation behind the changes too. "The End Of The World Party" opens the album off and has some fairly decent electronics and synths and a few cool guitar licks, but has some unnecessary dubstep (in that it feels rammed in) and the breakdown seems a little over aggressive when compared to the pop verses and choruses. "Over It" generally stays mostly happy sounding and actually is probably the catchiest song on the album in a good way, though it's fluffy and light themes in the verses is more like Owl City than stuff from fellow genre bands like Jamie's Elsewhere or Attack Attack! for instance.

"Still Not Quite Enough" is entirely an all pop rock song, and aside from more Owl City elements, has some pleasant albeit simple rock lead guitars that drive the song along. "Wonderland" doesn't change much of the formula much, but the the auto-tune used in the "Woah-ah-oh, oh" is too irritating to bear and gets pasted around so needlessly. A big breakdown again comes in at the end, and while it is admittedly amusing to have such a contrasting sound, it just reeks of sloppy song writing when almost all the heavy parts are tacked on. Especially instead of blending them in, something their first album at least did a marginally better job of doing. "Home For The Weekend" and "It Will Be Up (High School Never Ends)" gets more embarrassing with atrociously young teen orientated lyrics and rather tasteless and liberal use of auto-tune, a shame considering the latter has a fairly decent chorus and techno breakdown.

"Upside Down" is a slight improvement mostly, the lyrics are still a bit cheesy and happy, but Devin's voice definitely sounds better without a bunch of obnoxious effects applied to them. There's also a few decent guitar parts here and there, the guitarists can obviously string together some decent riffs when they want to. "The Common Hours II" is unusual in that it's the most varied and experimental track on "The End Of The World Party" Waltzy guitars here, retro 8-bit samples there, strange theatrical breakdown at the end that feels almost fitting, and the song isn't so much good as it is just more interesting. The last portion of the album returns once again to being more pop with "Where I Let You Down (Numb)" and "Glow". The former a decent track because it relies on some fine singing from Devin and not overdoing any other element in their sound, while the latter starts off okay but then has too much auto-tune towards the end. The last song "Pop Rock and Roll" reminds me of the closer on their last album "What This Means To Me". It's perhaps too sentimental and sincere in the most cliched and cheesy fashion, but it's strong hooks and good ending makes it one of the only tracks on the album worth going back to.

Overall "The End Of The World Party" is far too hit or miss for me to really recommend to anyone except die-hard fans of I See Stars (and even they may not be entirely satisfied) and a few similar acts (maybe For All Those Sleeping if they were even cornier). To sum up, there's a couple of okay or decent songs sandwiched inbetween lots of bad filler. The heavy and screamed segments are either too slapdash or too heavy for the mood in most cases and they only really feel working to me on "Over It" or "Pop Rock and Roll". While a lot of actual cool instrumentation and electronics, not to mention the fairly decent production get wasted with occasionally unbearable lyrics and auto-tune. Unfortunately a real mixed bag all round.

6

Download: Over It, Where I Let You Down (Numb), Pop Rock and Roll
For the fans of: Attack Attack! debut album, Jamie's Elsewhere, For All Those Sleeping, Owl City
Listen: Myspace, Facebook

Release Date 22.02.2011
Sumerian Records

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