National Product


Written by: PP on 22/08/2007 04:29:45

Orange County. Now that's a scene that has produced bands of all sorts, ranging from the melodic punk to hardcore to the emo screamo bands. It has one of the most vivid music scenes in the entire world, and to find yet another successful post-hardcore band stemming from that area is hardly surprising. Like almost all the bands from the area, National Product has received mixed reactions from the critics, with some denouncing them as "bland corporate rock" while others praising them to be "an entertaining post-hardcore act". We here at think they fall somewhere in between that, and this review of their debut album "Luna" is going to attempt to justify that.

While promoting this album to a couple of other scribes from our site, I described the band as being a more accessible version of Saosin. In retrospect, that description isn't 100% accurate, but it is a good signpost pointing towards the kind of sound "Luna" emits left and right. The album starts out strong with "By All Means", the most (new) Saosin-esque track on the record. It sets the tempo of the album to be relatively fast, with massive guitars and melodically yelled out vocals. "Collision" sounds remarkably different from the opener, starting out with a much more quiet and slower verse, hinting towards a quiet/loud dynamic, which is realized by the infectious chorus carried away by a strong vocal performance. "Medicated" is really predictable, but yet it'll have you singing along to the chorus in no time.

After the strong start, however, the album starts stumbling a little. "Love Me" is a generic ballad with wailing vocals, and just isn't very interesting in general. "Sad Excuse" saves the album from the impending disaster with its smartly placed back up vocals and a catchy chorus, and "Valentine" picks up where the opening track left with slightly heavier vocals though without sacrificing any of the catchiness.

Since the band introduced such a soft ballad so early on in the album, I was a bit afraid that the latter half of the album would lack the strength and majesty of the massive melodies that made the first half great. To some extent, those fears are realized. "Paper & Ink" leans a few too many notches towards pop rock to fit into the album, and "Where Do You Go" is another rather useless ballad breaking the nice flow the album otherwise had.

The rest of the album unfortunately falls into that "bland corporate rock" category described earlier. The songs lack the strength that the first half of the album showed, and frankly just aren't as good songs individually. Thus, what started as a powerful post-hardcore album, ends up leaving no memorable impression on you. A few songs on the album are good enough to be considered as 'excellent' in the post-hardcore / emo standards defined by Saosin, but the large majority of it falls into the 'too safe bet' category that most of us dread. Don't expect anything dangerous, aggressive or rough, because everything is fine tuned to perfection, removing every possible edge and glitch their live performance surely has. It's a shame, because a lot of the music has potential to be something really good. Even though the band isn't signed to a major label, "Luna" sounds like something a major label would release: a couple of instant radio hits, and a bunch of safe bets to justify releasing a full album. Given it's only their debut album, I hope to see more songs like "Medicating" on their sophomore release.


Download: Medicating, Collision
For the fans of: Saosin, Boys Like Girls, Hawthorne Heights
Listen: Myspace

Release date 07.08.2007
R&M Artist Records

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