Taking Chase plays post-hardcore diluted for a modern rock audience– an audience that doesn’t care, nor appreciate the legacy behind the sound. Too Many Stories is the bands debut album, best described as equal parts Hot Water Music, Crazy Arm, and Cold Summer– played with a bland music-is-music approach that results in an easily decipherable, accessible album that uses punk music as a springboard into forgetability. But as homogenized and harmless as this author finds Taking Chase, Too Many Stories isn’t without merit. The melodies work and the album maintains a sense of forward momentum through its dynamic fretwork. Taking Chase show promise in their songwriting but their diluted and unevolved approach to punk rock subtract heartily from the experience.
Too Many Stories covers a lot of lyrical ground in its half hour runtime– never repeating a topic and never falling into generic angst. Imagery is used to place the words into an everyday context, making the meanings all the more pertinent. On the horribly-titled “Saturday’s Best, Sunday’s Worst,” Taking Chase waste no time in setting the scene: “Sitting with a pen in my hand, ink is spilt from the chewed off lid top. A bitter taste is seeping in, tongues are dyed not tied. Words don’t form a sentence.” But with an opening so evocative and relatable, it’s hard to hear the ugly refrain of the title star as the song’s centerpiece. Grating and obnoxious, it’s one of a couple times where Taking Chase’s songwriting feels transparent and melodies forced.
Musically, Too Many Stories is a post-hardcore album written by someone who has little interest in hardcore, or even its ‘post’ prefix. Instead, the album sounds like an amalgamation of superficial observations from a shallow observer. Taking Chase don’t make technical, experimental music because they have a desire to subvert form– they use post-hardcore as a check mark for underground credibility, a dash of spice to lend their modern rock an atmosphere of authenticity. The problem is that they don’t dig deep enough into their influences, they only take from the surface and refuse to understand the emotions and purpose behind the sonic traits they’re trying to emulate.
Throughout Too Many Stories, Taking Chase display a talent for lyricism. They concoct imagery that resonates, dispose of rhyme schemes when they put a chokehold on the flow of ideas, and explore a number of topics. Their songwriting is strong, but falters in moments where the lyrics don’t immediately lend themselves to the music. These aren’t the actions of untalented musicians, they’re the actions of inexperienced ones. Taking Chase may very well release a great album in the future, but as it is, Too Many Stories feels a tad immature– not containing the knowledge or appreciation of its own influences necessary to wring out anything worthwhile.