Our Last Night

Age of Ignorance

Written by: DR on 25/09/2012 10:49:13

Despite their association with the 'scene' scene that exploded in the mid 2000s, then imploded merely a few years later, Our Last Night have managed to ride the trend out from almost beginning until end. Relative veterans of said scene, they managed to survive because they possessed a level of craftsmanship above most of their peers, and while they included the stereotypical elements such as breakdowns and synth samples, they never relied on them; their song-writing ability could always speak for itself.

Now, however, they are faced with the challenge of either evolving and moving past the scene, seemingly now on its last legs, or sinking with the ship into anonymity. This, arguably, makes "Age of Ignorance" their most important release to date, as it gives them a chance to reinvent themselves.

Yet, despite what should have been a 'free hit', Our Last Night fail to capitalise as "Age of Ignorance" sees their sound conflicted, languishing between their somethingcore roots and only barely testing the waters of new sonic territory. The first four songs could easily be cuts from "We Will All Evolve", though they are undeniably slick and solid. The second half of the record, mostly, does see some welcome ambition as the band explore a lot more, not only drawing from hardcore but also electronic rock in the vein of Linkin Park. There's a stark difference beteen the first half and second, though, so what we end up with is a record best described as 'awkward'.

Three characteristics in particular stick out as being especially awkward. The first is the role of 'frontman' Trevor Wentworth, who seems to be going the way of Dan Brown (ex- We Are The Ocean) with the most recent two albums. As the need for screaming is significantly reduced, and the field of this frontman screamer seemingly limited, added to the fact that he doesn't have the singing ability of his brother, for large parts of this album his performance seems tacked on as an afterthought. The second is the needless regression that happens as they trudge up past sounds by forcing breakdowns, 'heaviness', and even including rare use of the dated scream/sing verse/chorus dynamic. The third is the 'political' theme the lyrics cling to, which are solid if not imaginative at the best of times, and trite at the worst of times.

Most songs suffer from at least one of those elements at some point, though they are usually offset by another part of the song that's typically assured, but at the centre of the record, "Liberate Me", the worst song on the album, sticks out like a growth on a sore thumb. Based around a stuttering rhythm more akin to a gigantic breakdown, the hook of "there were never any fingerprints to hide / because your death was a suicide" is one of the worst choruses you'll hear all year, in any genre, while the transitions from verse to chorus are far too jarring.

It's not until the second half when everything clicks for Our Last Night, and the results are the best songs on the album. "Voices", starting with a solo spotlight on the vocals and gentle guitar work on Matt, concluding with a gradual swell as the rest of the band come in, is a slow-burner and a welcome change of pace, not only for this record, but for their discography so far. The two best songs, "Conspiracy" and "Enemy", have faint references of hardcore with driving rhythms, heaviness without the need for breakdowns, and well placed gang-shouts. Moreover, Trevor carries more convinction in these two songs than in the rest of the album combined as he's afforded the freedom and time to vent anger and frustration, while the vocal interplay between him and Matt is as spotless as you'd expect from two brothers who have been playing together for the best part of a decade.

A song like "Invincible", that draws heavily from electronic rock akin to Linkin Park, or even Skrillex, is likely to polarise fans just because it's different - but it's actually one of the least inoffensive tracks on "Age of "Ignorance"; it shows the band do have desire to explore new territory, which is something they should have done more of. Ultimately, though, this is an inconsistent record, not only in terms of sound but also quality. Our Last Night have too much ability for it to be a downright poor album, and despite the moments of genuine excellence, there are not enough of them for it be considered among Our Last Night's finest work. As they draw from past sounds as much as they try new sounds, they are neither charging forward nor quite regressing, more aimlessly standing still. What should have been a free hit for Our Last Night sees them neither smash it out of the park nor misswing entirely, but they need a clearer direction next time around.


Download: Voices, Conspiracy, Enemy
For The Fans of: Our Last Night's "We Will All Evolve", Saosin, Linkin Park
Listen: Facebook page

Release Date 21.08.2012
Epitaph Records

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