So They Say

Life In Surveillance

Written by: PP on 10/10/2007 03:23:35

St. Louis based quartet So They Say plays your basic, by the books post-hardcore full of catchy hooks and extended vocal croons. They aren't re-inventing the wheel for the genre, nor are they doing something particularly unique or - dare I say it - even that interesting. But for the most part, their sophomore record "Life In Surveillance" has just enough substance to keep me returning to the album, and wondering if there's something lurking underneath the glittery, flawless production that the album boasts with.

"Life In Surveillance" also shares a lot of the same personality traits as National Product's "Luna" that I reviewed about a month ago. Not necessarily soundwise, but the overall impact of the album has been exactly the same on me. The songwriting is decent, but not something that immediately strikes out on you. That's why it takes something like five to seven listens before you notice how infectious the songs are. I guess if I had to compare them to specific bands, I'd say something along the lines of Halifax and Hidden In Plain View with a bit of Armor For Sleep influence here and there.

Notice how I didn't make any differentiation between the songs just before. They are all equally good, and sound more or less the same throughout. There are silent verses, bombastic choruses and lots of angstful croons from their two vocalists, who share the singing duties equally in the majority of the songs. They rarely scream - in fact one of the only instances where I remember noticing any screaming is in "Close Range", where one of the two vocalists constantly visits the border between scratched yelling and flat out screaming. The guitars consist of medium pace crunching power chords, with only the occasional sparkle of absolutely stunning effects (see the beginning of "An Apology"). My deduction from this is that the band hasn't been able to distinguish between their strong and weak points.

Another example is the infectious "I Won't Tell". The approach on vocals is slightly more aggressive, giving the song some more steam especially when it assaults you in the chorus with it's colossal "iiiii woooon't teeeelllll" croons. It is also the only other song with any screaming in it, as one of the vocalists shrieks pretty much his lungs out in the middle of the song. The screams are left slightly unproduced compared to the rest of the record, which is a good idea since it removes the whole 'cliché' feel they would've almost surely had otherwise. Here they leave me wanting for more, wishing that the band would've brought such sudden outbursts of aggression on more tracks.

The album closes with probably the second best song on the album, "Nuclear Sunrise". The vocals in the song bring me a slight Jane's Addiction vibe, and the guitars are more delicate and aren't as huge for the entirety of the song. Variation really works, guys, and it's a shame there isn't more of it on the record.

For the most part, "Life In Surveillance" is pretty solid. The few peaks on the album leave you wanting for more, and allthough you can't really find any flaws in any of the songs, most of them aren't really exceptional either. The term 'generic' carries such a negative connotation that I'm hesitant to use it, but I guess it really fits "Life In Surveillance" the best: it's a very typical post-hardcore release, which couldn't defy its genre even if its life depended on it. But that doesn't necessarily make it bad.


Download: I Won't Tell, Nuclear Sunrise, An Apology
For the fans of: Halifax, Hidden In Plain View, Hawthorne Heights
Listen: Myspace

Release date 09.10.2007
Fearless Records

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