Ten Second Epic

Better Off

Written by: TL on 18/10/2011 14:00:27

Around this time last year, I missed a opportunity to check out Canadian quintet Ten Second Epic, when I arrived late for their set in support of You Me At Six. I only managed to catch about one and a half songs, yet something about the performance must have stuck by me. Either that or it's just the fact that I kind of like the band's name that has encouraged me to check out their recently released sophomore LP "Better Off" for the purpose of a review. Initially, I thought it would be a relatively easy task, considering that Ten Second Epic play relatively conventional brand of pop-punk/rock, but given a closer look, "Better Off" has given me a number of looks that have clouded up the issue for me.

To begin with, TSE seem consistently edgier and more 'rock' than the glossy, polished poster boy sound we've come to halfway expect every time a new pop-punk band comes around. The singing has a hint of scratchy roughness to it, making it seem more real and less teeny than usual, and similar things can be said of the guitars, that have more crunch and texture than the cookie-cut chords we're also all too used to. At times, TSE almost sound like The Classic Crime, yet they stand apart by being just a little more up-beat and light-weight overall.

Where things really start to confuse me however, is in realising that this is a record that essentially has two distinct faces. On one side you have some pretty hard rocking songs, like "Animal Choices" and album opener "Young Classics", which are surprisingly aggressive in both vocals and guitar work. Especially the latter is a surprise opening the record with a punch, much like "Bleed American" did on the Jimmy Eat World album of the same name. That's all great, but then you also get songs like "Sanctuary", "Runaway" and "Eastbound", which are so shamelessly poppy that they could've easily fit on a Marianas Trench album.

It's not a problem per se, this variety, because even though it makes it a little hard if you want to flat out decide if TSE are a band to either rock hard, or seduce smoothly, such a decision isn't really necessary, and it actually only makes "Better Off" seem a more interesting album, that you can scratch the surface and find that there's slightly more to it than just your regular pop-punk record. What is a problem is that even in realising this and hence really wanting to like the album, I still haven't really been able to gel with it despite quite numerous attempts. Every time I listen, I notice lots of encouraging little things, but overall, the songs never really reach the heights of some of the bands I've mentioned as comparisons. The songwriting department simply seems to be lacking that extra dash of intangible character that really makes the hits resonate perfectly. Eventually, regardless of the initially puzzling hard/soft balance, it really is as simple as that, and for that dominating reason, "Better Off" is an album that won't disappoint when put on, yet you still probably won't feel a powerful need to listen to it too often in the future.


Download: Young Classics, Sanctuary, Eastbound, Animal Choices
For The Fans Of: Marianas Trench, The Classic Crime, Sparks The Rescue, Bright And Early
Listen: facebook.com/tensecondepicmusic

Release Date 19.09.2011
Black Box/Bullion/Hassle

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