Album Review: You Blew It! – “The Past in Present”

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You Blew It! capture a lot of youthful exuberance while expanding on life’s melodramas. That’s what these emo-bands do. There’s a lot of 90s revival being thrown in when you mention emo bands in contemporary times and I can understand why, although I’ll be the first to say that emo never died. From Small Brown Bike to Sunny Day Real Estate to a plethora of influences, you can sense the range and approach that You Blew It! took. ‘The Past in Present’ is one of the most stirring yet calmer records this year that does the genre justice. It’s impacting as a storytelling tool and visceral as a sonic signature and I think they hit the right nails on the head.

Lo-fi energy and drowsy slow-burners comprise this entire record. It still doesn’t come off as routine but know that it’s all about twinkly guitars and soothing melodies. “Hope Its Not A Deposit Bottle” and “Kevin You’re Such A Disease” (yes, an epic Home Alone reference) open the record and set this tone. They capitalize well on setting the pace of the album with runtimes that are a tad long per track. But their waves of emo pan out as adept and as close to Jimmy Eat World, the Get Up Kids and Promise Ring as one could hope for. The over-dramatic cracking vocals, the clean (or just-barely-overdriven) guitars strum not-too-aggressively in crunchy chords and arpeggios with the drums playing intricate patterns and pushing everything forward. It folds nicely for fans of their older material, which stick close to Penfold and dashes of American Football a lot.

The members are road-tested and tighter than ever, a quality essential to this kind of playing, where every instrument is exposed. “Saddle Up Sanantonio” is a gruffer take on the album with the vocals a bit harsher and it’s this slight change in vocal tempo that help you realize the album is actually one big song that spans over half-hour, and is broken into eight tidbits here. Chapters to their novel. This song is a strong cut, starting with a gritty stroke before the sharp guitar rhythms strike. The mid-tempo work with nice ride bell work by drummer Tim Flynn, has some of the most emo sentiments on the record. It’s mellowed out a lot and with nifty panning effects, you get their typical instrumental interlude to let you breathe. The emo-riffage is built on slidey guitars and drum breakdowns and it’s one of the more intense, Braid-esque tracks by the time “To The Moon” hits to showcase how technically sound they are. Throw in some odd meters and a key change to push it over the top and you’ve got one of my favorites off the album.

The production is a step up from their older stuff. It’s still raw, and perhaps that’s what they were goin’ for. But with a style of music characterized by pointed rhythms and clean-channel arpeggios, I think the neater the production, the better. That said, it doesn’t affect the songs negatively by any means. It sounds like 90s Chicago! While owing great debts to their forefathers and not showing a ton of growth from their EPs, You Blew It! still manage to impress by doing their schtick so well. This is an enjoyable album, especially for the older set looking for 90’s nostalgia acts.

4/5 Stars


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