Recently, I’ve been finding the idea of self-titled albums very interesting. Most bands will go this route with one of their albums at some point in their career, and some may even opt for multiple eponymous releases. Growing up, I always assumed that if an album was self-titled, it was the band’s first release, and in most cases I was right. Maybe I just never really realized it before, but I’m starting to see more bands go the self-titled route much later in their career. But why? Are they trying to reinvent themselves? Are they making a statement that this album is and will be the best representation of the band? Am I reading too much into this? Maybe in Boysetsfire’s case, none of the above applied to their thought process in naming the album, but I think their sixth full length album is a perfect representation of what the band is as a whole.
The music is still a mix of aggressive hardcore, somewhat experimental post-hardcore, and catchy melodic hooks. But unlike past albums, the tone of BoySetsFire seems to be more optimistic and hopeful. The music seems a little peppier, and the lyrics speak on overcoming hardship. You can’t help but feel a little happy as the album is spinning. That doesn’t mean the band doesn’t open up about the terrible things going on in the world like they always do though.
Many of the songs talk about how men have become beasts, like in “Savage Blood,” where vocalist Nathan Gray sings, “My heart beats with savage blood / and I won’t repent, for what I’ve become.” But while themes like that are presented often, they are matched by calls for finding something better. One example is in “Ordinary Lives”: “Is there anybody out there? Is there any other way to survive? We can live so much more than these ordinary lives.”
The album also matches these lyrical themes musically. The band has plenty of heavy hitting hardcore songs, like “The Filth Is Rising,” and “Coward.” They also bring their unique take on post-hardcore experimentation throughout, especially on “Breathe In, Bleed Out,” which is a four and a half minute journey where you really don’t know what to expect. More than ever though, the band isn’t afraid to show their softer side. Nathan Gray’s soaring harmonies bring out passionate and introspective feelings in songs like “Torches to Paradise” and the previously mentioned “Ordinary Lives.” But more than those reflective moments, the album often gets downright joyful, like in the lead single “One match,” and my personal favorite “Heaven Knows.”
BoySetsFire is a great album from a band that has proven they know how to make great albums. There are no real dull moments, though the ordering of the last few tracks can be a bit jarring. I think it would have served the album better to switch the last two songs, but eh, what do I know. So to pick up my question from earlier regarding self-titled albums, this seems to be as good a time as any for the band to put a stamp down and say, “this album is a perfect representation of who we are as a band.”
4.5 / 5 Stars
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