Life On Repeat

Struggle + Sleep

Written by: BL on 13/09/2011 01:43:39

Life On Repeat, from Maryland in the US, may just be hoping to do a bit of an A Day To Remember and go big time playing some pop infused post-hardcore with their debut album "Struggle + Sleep". However make no mistake, they are far from a generic imitation of a pop-punk band playing a bunch of screaming breakdowns. They have a smart pop taste that aligns more towards pop-rock, and the heavier flip-side, while at times metallic and other times still involving the odd breakdown, feels remarkably natural and well blended. The instrumentation is full of buoyant technical flair with slick guitars and exciting action packed drumming, though a lot of the time the focus is on some pretty polished vocals. Especially for something involving any post-hardcore, it feels almost refreshing that "Struggle + Sleep" decides to rely very little on any actual screaming to deliver any emotional impact.

To give a clearer comparison impression of what "Struggle + Sleep" feels like, I hear parts of Conditions with the guitar melodies, the vocal harmonies, the drive, and then part modern and part older post-hardcore stylised by the likes of Jamie's Elsewhere (minus the electronics) and Story of the Year. Album titled opener and first single "Struggle + Sleep" is a straight to the point introduction to Life On Repeat's ball game and establishes a sort of energetic, spunky attitude with its catchy mannerisms, pacey guitars and uplifting lyrical work. Those qualities filter through the rest of the album and continues on with second track "The Waiting Game" which is also a fast number. The pop aspect of this song seems to work really well too (despite the sappy relationship based lyrics) - vocalist Pat Purves putting on a decent display of his capable range and combining well with the emotive guitars. "The Need, Not The Cause" is less of a standout by comparison though the sung parts still sound decent enough, the chorus has a nice melody to it, and there's a few cool guitar parts towards the end. Next up we have "Southern Girls" which is an older song re-recorded by the band for this record, and you can sort of see why as it sounds really good (having never heard the original). The song writing feels mature yet fun, the massive pop vocals all over playing well alongside swaggering main riffs and there's even a hint of a scream with the heavy section.

"Rock The Boat" doesn't deviate too much from the now familiar proceedings, but is pretty solid all round and has plenty of memorable vocal lines particular the sudden and swift chorus: "Stop! And get a load of what she’s got, To give away to the boy she dropped, She really likes to rock the boat". Following on, "Feet Under" has some of the best guitar work on the album with a slow but spicy solo introduction, then plenty of catchy bright guitar leads throughout as sparkling finishes on the usual ingredients. Unfortunately "Layover Letdown" and "Sinking" don't feel like big steps forwards, and in fact are more like circling over what was already tred previously - reusing some of the same dynamics and structures, as well as guitar and vocal ideas. Having said as much though, they don't get relegated to pure filler because each has a couple of nice individual moments like the ending theme of the latter song. Penultimate piece "Without You Here" is a fairly pleasant acoustic offering, but it too has issues namely that it runs a fine line between sentimentality and cliche with its lyrics so cheesy: "Babe, be with me, be with me now, And I will just love you until the end of time". Luckily the album ends on a high note as the closer "Wide Awake" is the band back on the hunt - a thoroughly engaging song structure filled with intricate and groovy guitar work and an irresistible chorus.

It's probably a slighty sad truth that while "Struggle + Sleep" is a fairly enjoyable and even surprising debut album at times, it isn't going to set any new benchmarks certainly for either the pop-rock or the post-hardcore genres. What it does do well aside from containing quite a few solid tracks though is combining the two contrasting styles pretty effortlessly in a way that hasn't really been done much at all, especially given the absence of screaming 99% of the playtime yet still sounding fairly heavy through meaty riffs and technical breakdowns that pop up here and there. If that plus a bucketload of competent, catchy clean vocals sounds appealing to you in any way, then you should get a kick out of this.

Download: The Waiting Game, Southern Girls, Rock The Boat, Wide Awake
For the fans of: Conditions, Jamie's Elsewhere, Story of the Year
Listen: Myspace, Facebook

Release Date 14.06.2011
Equal Vision Records

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