Close Your Eyes – We Will Overcome
Victory Records (2/16/10)
Pop-punk / Hardcore
The debut album by Close Your Eyes has been tagged under the sound-alike banners of Rise Against, New Found Glory and A Day to Remember, and you can hear why from the offset.
Although touted as the big hardcore release of 2010 so far, stay away if you’re expecting something gritty, edgy and, well… hard. This is “hardcore” in the current trend of beat-down, stuffed, riff-infused, heavied-up pop-punk; polished to perfection and sprinkled with chart-friendly melodies and anthemic sing-a-longs.
The production is tight, bringing out the best in each track, from the crisp guitars and thumping kick to the wailing vocals and a regimentally solid sense of rhythm throughout. The guitars burst with quality, crunching and screaming through your speakers as needed, with just the right amount of overdrive tenacity and studio sheen whilst the bass and drums rifle off machine-gun beats that hold it all together whilst driving everything onwards like a rapid-fire catapult.
Unfortunately for Close Your Eyes, the singing can sometimes sound more Fall Out Boy than Comeback Kid—another band they’ve been likened to—and the band does lack originality in both the singing and screaming departments. The vocal efforts belong to that of the shelf-generic, American post-hardcore sound that New Found Glory and their disciples have wrapped up as their own. This isn’t anything new by a long shot, and it’s starting to sound very stale and old when a new act tries to muscle in on this already overcrowded party of retraced footsteps and long over-travelled ground. This is especially the case when bands such as Rise Against, Set Your Goals and The Lawrence Arms just get out there and show what can be done with even the most trace amounts of flair and individuality. You’re never going to be sitting around forming a list of who Tim McIlrath’s yelling sounds identical to as it screams into your cranium, in the same way that you’re not going to be confused as to why there are no pages to turn on the computer screen in front of you.
The screaming is used well and sparingly to add a bit of impact and punch when the song calls for it, but even here there’s a copy-and-pasted feel from the other acts in their genre and you struggle to hear much in the way of personality here. The anthemic sing-alongs are infectious, however, and although they’re hard to get wrong in the first place, here they’re used to great effect and always seem to pick you up and sweep you along with ease.
Musically the album fits the aforementioned “pop-punk with beat-downs” hardcore blueprint perfectly but, as opposed to the vocals and their problems, there’s still enough in the way of fresh ingredients to keep you interested. Thrown in with the old tried and tested hardcore clichés, the band have managed to make something that warms you up, sucks you in and makes you want to bounce around the room like you’ve just guzzled a crate of Monster Energy. (Which is surely the point of all this?)
Highlights include opening track “A Proclamation”, setting the bar high from the start, “The Body” and its harder yet melodic four-minute brawl and “Wake Up!” with its catchy, gallop through vocal harmonies and foot down choruses.
Behind both the presentation and the problems you’ll find the beating heart and energy of a band you can throw yourself into a huge crowd of people for, and this, their debut album, is probably best used as a primer before hitting one of their shows.
Yes, as an album, We Will Overcome has its problems and only just about manages to dodge and weave through the many clichés it plays up to, but for addicts of the feel-good poppy hardcore genre then this is definitely worth a shot. I can’t promise you a whole lot in the way of originality, but what’s here works and works well. It’s not quite as bad as second-hand adrenaline, but it’ll get you pumped up even if you’re left counting all the bands already out there that sound identical who do it slightly better and fresher. This is still, however, a very well-produced and accomplished collection of fired-up pop-punk/hardcore anthems.