Full Of War

Written by: TL on 20/04/2013 18:09:35

If you read a lot of music reviews, chances are you'll be reading a looooot of text about musical style. Bands representing and developing various styles are partly the reason being a music fan is so continually fascinating and reviewers and fans alike spend ages following and discussing various trends and tangents, ascribing different values of novelty and integrity to them. Yet while I personally partake in this as happily as anyone, I admit that I often find myself asking if it isn't too often forgotten what really makes us absorb a record or relate to aband - namely whether or not the songs are any good.

I bring this up because of Conditions, a Virginia quintet-turned-quartet of some success, whose stellar debut album "Flourescent Youth" was one of the most under-appreciated albums of its year if you ask me. And because I think the reason is to be found with the band's style: Their melodic, energetic, powerful and up-beat modern rock is the kind that sounds like a lot of other bands while not really sounding like any of them, and unlike most similar bands, Conditions never flashed any sort of gimmick to set themselves apart. In essense they're that single contemporary rock band that does not have breakdowns, does not have screams, does not have a female bassist for eye candy, does not have a violinist, does not reference nu-metal, does not include techno etc. etc. etc.

As anybody who heard "Flourescent Youth" should testify however, Conditions' only gimmick is that they consistently pen some of the most catchy and engaging songs around, which is why I've been eagerly anticipated this year's follow-up "Full Of War", even despite worrying about the impact of the band losing a guitarist between albums. And fortunately, any worrying now seems futile, because as it turns out "Full Of War" is hardly, if at all, any less impressive than "Flourescent Youth".

What Conditions continue to offer the listener on "Full Of War", instead of gimmicks, is powerful, fast-paced and highly melodic music, full of soaring guitar sounds, a sublime sense of dynamics in traditional songstructure, clear and perfectly enunciated vocals and thoughtful, uplifting lyricism with more depth than you'd expect from such an easily accessible band as this one. For starters, just check out opener "Walking Separate Ways" and hear singer Brandon Roundtree coat his insights on existential questions of identity with an encouraging and forward-looking perspective:

"I'm both the sinner and the gentlemen at heart

I accept that without questioning

'cause I, I'm so sick of the riddle.

I'm caught between two lives

and every second I'm awake

I check reflections so I won't forget my face

and it's alright 'cause I will never let it change

and it's that common ground that calms me

walking separate ways."

Starting here and moving on across the album, which is deftly filled with instantly recognisable intros and choruses, Roundtree takes on various issues: "Best Mistake" embraces the consequences of a dramatic infatuation, while "Long Division" takes on the pointless creationism/evolution discussion and "Love Elusive" laments people selling themselves short in pursuit of love, all of them offering impactful phrases you'll soon find yourself singing along to.

And that's pretty much the main story of "Full Of War". It's another album of deceptively catchy melodies and lyrical bits that are both encouraging and thought-provoking, and that to me helps further consolidate Conditions as a band that's good in the areas that count. It's not that I don't understand you if you take the position that their sheer sound lacks a certain something to strongly identify it - I hear that, and that's why "Full Of War" doesn't seize the very highest marks here. But an album full of titles that come easily to my mind, and has me singing along despite myself on each spin? You know where that's headed.


Download: Best Mistake, Skeleton, Walking Separate Ways, Wonderful Lie
For The Fans Of: Anberlin, Young Guns, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus,

Release Date 26.03.2013
Good Fight Music / eOne Music

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