Courtesy: High Road Publicity
Early this month, emo-punk outfit From States Away released its new EP to the masses. The four-song record, I Swear This Light Won’t Fade is just the band’s latest offering. It previously released another 4-song EP – Hypervigilant – in 2016. That record was preceded by the single, ‘Anti-Hero’ and the six-song EP We’re All Lost Too in 2015 and the single ‘Major League’ in 2010. This is all important to note when examining the record’s musical content, which will be discussed later. The record’s lyrical content is another important element to examine in the case of this record, and will be addressed shortly. The EP’s production rounds out its most important elements, and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of I Swear This Light Won’t Fade. All things considered, the record might not necessarily break any new ground, but is not a total loss for the band.
From States Away’s latest studio recording I Swear This Light Won’t Fade is a presentation from the New York-based emo-punk outfit that will appeal in the long run to the band’s most devoted audience. It does not break any new ground for the band or for the punk and emo-punk realms, but it can be said of the record that it is not a total loss. This is proven in part through the EP’s lyrical content. According to press material that discusses the record’s lyrical content, the EP’s overall theme is one of “following your dreams” and “the existential woes of pursuing a dream that everyone else may call ‘dumb.’” Anything that encourages one to pursue one’s dreams despite the odds is a good thing. Kudos to the band for this. ‘Night & Day,’ the record’s opener, is just one of the songs that addresses that theme. It finds front man Chris Lauletti singing, “I can taste your pretentiousness/It’s stained all on your lips/You’re the reason we digress/I hope your tongue rots with your breathe/I see more than you think/From my line of sight/My past is laced with heavy stakes/I don’t play well with others/I dare you to provoke my brothers.” That positivity doesn’t last, though. Lauletti goes on to sing, “Scratching at my wounds/I hope they open soon/I always feel safest when I’m in my room.” From there, the subject states, “I binge and purge/on every urge/I never learn from my mistakes/I always take a few steps forward/And end falling on my face/I swear this light won’t fade/I feel it resonate/It’s like night and day/the way my mind plays tricks on me.” Again, this is someone dealing with so many thoughts and emotions. There is not a lot of stability here in the person’s mind. It is that inner literary struggle – man versus himself. Considering that emo-punk generally appeal to younger tweens and teens, the instability in the subject’s thoughts and feelings as he/she tries to find that balance is something to which said younger listeners will easily connect.
‘Elm Street’ is another example of how the record’s lyrical content helps keep it afloat. The song, which does in fact reference the classic slasher flick with its title, is another work that seems, through its lyrical content, to approach someone dealing with conflicting thoughts and emotions as per chasing dreams. Lauletti sings in this song, “Swerving through the traffic cones/Not sure of where to go/Indecisive and I think/I have problems with control/Press my face in wet cement/I still don’t think I’m better yet/I swore I’d live without regret/But I pass up every chance I get.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Sprinting through my nightmares/Of being by myself/I cling to everyone I see/I’m a constant call for help/Maybe I’m outdated/But at least I’m not complacent/I count up my accomplishments/While you drown in your incompetence.” Once again, this comes across as someone battling him/her self. This time though, the song’s subject seems to have a little bit more confidence, realizing that despite his/her own problems, he/she is not as bad off as someone else.
‘Hair,’ the EP’s second song, is yet another work that clearly addresses the theme of following one’s dreams. While at its heart, it comes across as another song about a broken relationship, it also comes across as a confident work of sorts. That is because it seems to find the song’s subject realizing that in order to move past that broken relationship, one must let go and move on. This is inferred as Lauletti sings, “We both said some things/We can’t take them back/You were there//I saw you sleeping and your hair was soaking wet/I can’t take you back/Can’t take you back/I know you want it.” This comes across as someone making that realization once and for all that it is for the best to just move on. If one releases the past, even in the matter of personal relationships. That is because in letting go and moving forward, one will be able to focus more on other matters in life. Once again, kudos are in order for the band in this element.
For all of the positive that the EP’s lyrical content does for its presentation, the EP is not perfect. Musically speaking, I Swear The Light Won’t Fade does not exactly break any new ground either for the band or for the emo-punk community. The band plays it safe from start to finish here, creating six musical arrangements that stay very much in the same vein as the band’s previous works. On another level, the songs will appeal once again to fans of Boys Like Girls, Knuckle Puck, The Wonder Years, Hawthorne Heights, Dashboard Confessional and other similar style acts. Simply put, the band does not provide much new to its musical landscape with this EP’s arrangements. In its defense, it is not the only band to ever take this track. This happens in every one of rock’s sub-genres, and even in other genres across the musical universe. In many of those cases it has worked well. However, it has also served to keep those acts in a very set place within the acts’ given musical communities, rather than making them stand out. To that end, comparing the band’s latest musical offerings to what it has previously offered listeners, it is difficult to say that there is anything here that truly stands out and sets the band apart from its contemporaries. Again, the band’s most devoted fans will likely overlook this, but in the bigger picture of the punk and emo-punk realms, it is not something that will help the record in the long run.
While the arrangements in whole do not do a lot to make From States Away’s new EP stand out, the negative raised by those arrangements is the EP’s only negative. The record’s production is another positive worth noting. It can be said of each of the record’s four songs that each musician’s part is well-balanced. The record’s opener, again, is one song that can be cited to support this statement. Lauletti’s vocals are thankfully not lost in the somewhat contemplative, “airy” portions of the verses. In the same breath, the verses’ more driving moments his vocals are just as well balanced against the fullness formed through the dual guitar approach of Bennett Pisaniello and Joey Mascola, the bass work of Brendan Beebe and drummer Taylor Doughty. If not for the work of those behind the glass, that conglomeration would have been little more than a cacophonic, unbalanced mass. To that end, the attention to balance all of those elements deserves its share of credit.
The incorporation of the Nightmare on Elm Street musical element to open ‘Elm Street’ At the same time, it was maybe a little bit too muffled and jumbled. It would have been nice to have had more clarity in that moment, even despite the clearly intended emotional effect. Another item to note is the incorporation of the “orchestral” elements in ‘Stalling Out.’ A close listen reveals those elements are not actual strings. However, their inclusion, and the subtlety in their use adds even more impact to the song’s arrangement. Again, the attention to that subtlety by those behind the glass is to thank for that balance. It is yet another way in which the EP’s production shines. When it is considered along with so many other items that can be noted in longer discussions, and that of the lyrical themes presented throughout the record, the whole of the EP makes its presentation such that the EP will still appeal to the band’s target audiences. That is even with the issues raised in the record’s musical arrangements.
From States Away’s new EP I Swear This Light Won’t Fade is a good new effort from the independent New York-based emo-punk outfit. That is thanks in large part to its lyrical content, which does do a respectable job of illustrating the EP’s overall theme of pursuing one’s dreams, despite life’s emotional obstacles. The record’s songs do not break any new ground for the band or for the emo-punk/punk realms. However, the band can be forgiven for that, considering that plenty of acts across the musical universe take similar paths. This includes acts that are far more established than From States Away. The EP’s production shows particular attention was put into the creation of each song. That attention plays a key role in making the arrangements, while maybe not the most original, still appealing to the band’s most devoted fans, and to the most devoted emo and pop punk audiences in general. Each item is important in its own right to the whole of I Swear This Light Won’t Fade. All things considered, the noted listeners will find the EP worth at least one listen. I Swear This Light Won’t Fade is available now. More information on the EP is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at http://www.facebook.com/FromStatesAwayBand
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