Sleeping With Sirens


Written by: TL on 23/06/2013 21:24:03

When Florida quintet Sleeping With Sirens somehow got the scene's attention with a completely generic batch of "screamed verse, pretty chorus"-music on their debut LP "With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear", it was one of those moments that made me realise that post-hardcore was starting to steadily produce worse and worse bands. Which is why - despite this staying quite true for the genre at large - I was pretty delightfully surprised when the band's sophomore "Let's Cheers To This" stepped completely away from half-assed heaviness to rather overload on hysterically catchy melodies. Moreover, singer Kellin Quinn was starting to establish himself as more than a flash in a pan as a vocalist, continuing to make progress on the acoustic pop of last year's "If You Were A Movie, This Would Be Your Soundtrack".

More and more it seemed that the best path for the band would be to let pop into its soundscape and cater to Quinn's sexy, high pitched melodies. And why not? Exploring the borderlands between rock's subgenres and pop has been the things to do for big bands this year (see: Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Thirty Seconds To Mars), so if I've liked this development, and if I've foreseen it as the right direction for Quinn and company, I should be really satisfied when the third Sleeping With Sirens album "Feel" does indeed expand the band's sound even further, no?

Let me get to that in a minute. First let's do the good news. Quinn is still one hell of a singer, one you can't help but love if you like it when silky, sexy pop-voices get mixed in with the harder rock genres. The screeches he does in opener "Feel" and later track "I'll Take You There" will still catch your ears, as will his continued dwelling on the subject of bad fatherhood in the recognisable verse of "Free Now", and the band can still rock you when they up the energy in a track like "Low", which recalls the vibe of the last album's devilishly infectious "If You Can't Hang".

The problem is that for each moment that works relatively well on "Feel", there's at least one or two that are just completely out of whack. Already when the title track opens the record, the lacklustre song-structure has the listener bored before the song draws toward an end, and the bloated production of ambiance and strings that blur together, does nothing but underscore this with its pointless arrangement. Overblown power-ballad "Alone" - which is one of the record's highlights I might add - has some dramatic melody going, but the rapping contributed by guest vocalist Machine Gun Kelly is of the of the completely boneheaded variety that can't but ruin an otherwise relatively likeable track.

I could maybe forgive this if it was a singular attack of stupidity, but the borderline nu-metallic pseudo-hardness of riffs in "The Best There Ever Was" and "Congratulations" continue to show a shallow, douchy side to the band that apparently needed to find its expression on "Feel". An impression that's sustained in the almost Bon Jovi-esque cock-rock of "Déjà Vu" which - just like "Free Now" sort of watered down the fatherhood issues already explored on the last album's excellent "A Trophy Father's Trophy Son" - appears like a worse take on the brazen sexy-talk of the last album's brilliant "Your Nickel Ain't Worth My Dime".

Okay, fair must be fair - "Feel" is an eclectic and in some ways daring album, Kellin Quinn's vocal talent is not to be diminished, and these songs are too dynamic and straight-forwardly catchy to be a forgetable listen. It is however haunted by minimum-effort, big-rock compositions, shallow lyricism and over-production to the point where the end-product oozes tastelessness in too many moments to overlook. You can call it good, but only in the way you have to call a Black Veil Brides record good, while simultaneously observing that it's going to cause you a fair few facepalms pr. listen.


Download: Alone, Low, Free Now, I'll Take You There
For The Fans Of: Pierce The Veil, There For Tomorrow, Broadway

Release Date 04.06.2013
Rise Records

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