I See Stars


Written by: BL on 15/04/2009 00:52:32

Having been hit by the electronica-infused screamo trend like a tidal wave on an unsuspecting guy on a surfboard, I've been sifting through the endless line of new Attack Attack! wannabes of late to soak up my apparent want for more dance keyboards with brootal scenecore (as if "If Someday Came Suddenly" wasn't enough). Thus far though, I See Stars appear to be one of the strongest contenders for being considered a rival. I had long heard of I See Stars, however - around the same time as I started listening to Attack Attack!, and I've been following their progression to their debut "3D".

Given that, I was rather surprised when I listened to the album for the first time. Other than having good production values, there were noticeable changes from the early days of the band and the early demos of songs that are on this album (one song underwent a complete change in structure and lyrics it seems). And for a band so similar to Attack Attack! in the apparent ingredients of synthesizer screamo, there is enough difference here for them to stand on their own. For a start, Attack Attack! are far more heavy, while this album has a total of one dissonance-based breakdown in the second track, "The Common Hours", and only sparse use of the dreaded horror chord in other tracks. Also, the electronica is generally used to create extra layering melodies and backing ambience, rather than to create rave parties with whole sections of huge thumping beats and synth rhythms. The intro to "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World" has a particularly nice synth intro and "I am Jacks Smirking Revenge" shows how well the synths work with the rest of the music. In fact, they are a real highlight compared to the technically pedestrian guitar, bass and drum work.

Despite initially being rather taken aback by how much it now sounds like Broadway vocal-wise (for those of you familiar to Misha's high pitched clean vocals, check out the opener "Project Wake Up"), I'll take a positive note that unlike Attack Attack!'s furious deployment of the robotic auto-tune effect every time there are clean vocals, the said effect is only used sparingly on this album (and only to full effect on the surprisingly good electronica interlude track "Sing This!" featuring Bizzy Bone) which actually makes it more fitting when it is used.

I enjoyed this album probably more than I thought I should. It's not that original if I'll be honest - just imagine Attack Attack! with less of the dance, breakdowns, and more creative use of melodies from In Fear and Faith and Broadway - but it is fun (case in point: the bongo interlude on "Where The Sidewalks Ends") and there certainly is a lot of sing-a-long material throughout. I'm rather pleased actually that this album is incredibly catchy since the focus is on being tuneful rather than brootal, so while there are a lot of heavy moments, these guys really shine in the more melodic parts, with the bright outro to the fitting closer "What This Means To Me" really epitomising it all. It certainly doesn't out-stay its welcome either, and this allowed me to revisit for more. A colourful and tasty addition to the scene.

Download: Project Wakeup, 3D, What This Means To Me
For the fans of: Attack Attack!, In Fear and Faith, Broadway
Listen: Myspace

Release date 14.04.2009

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