Tuesday, October 13, 2009

review: Horror Vacui I Was Totally Destroying It

Deckfight is participating in an albums of the decade blog tour. Check the dates and list at www.10blogs1decade.tumblr.com

Also, check out the Deckfight review on IWTDI's previous EPs and a Q&A with the band.

Horror Vacui
I Was Totally Destroying It
GreyDay, 2009

I Was Totally Destroying It: "Come Out, Come Out"

I Was Totally Destroying It: "A Reason To"

Just read that big Rolling Stones cover story about how the Beatles broke up. That ended up as a mess and a lawsuit. Read another article that Rachel Hirsh and John Booker the main songwriters for Chapel Hill's I Was Totally Destroying It broke up as well. Lucky for all of us, that resulted in
Horror Vacui and the band plays on.

It's the second full-length (I guess) for the band, though they smashed some EPs together in between this new release and their self-titled original.

I always thought I was a huge fan of the first album, but what I learned recently was that I was a fan of a couple songs that carried the whole thing. At a IWTDI show, I'll be the guy yelling "To Nomenclature" as I think it's one of the best pop songs I've ever heard, and I'm a sucker for "Hey Alright" and "My Favorite Haunt" as well. But reflecting back on those songs and album, it's clear that Hirsh was a bit reserved, still feeling her way as a singer, performer, keyboardist and part of this whole "band thing." There are (at least to me) clear Hirsh songs and clear Booker songs. But on
Horror Vacui, despite the duo's romantic separation, the two function better together.

There is harmony, and I don't just mean in vocal parts, but the instruments gel, the voices gel. Even though the lyrics speak of separation, there is a cohesiveness. On "A Reason To" probably the song most about a divided couple, the keyboard sets the melody line, but it complements the rhythm guitar very well. All parts are working on full cylinders even though the lyrics speak of something different. There is no round robin here of instruments (okay, you play your part, then you slowly move in, and we'll see how long that goes...), no these are realized, full, dense, good.

"Done Waiting" will induce screams with its soon to be familiar opening; "Caterwaul" has a well-defined urgency; "Green Means Go" are the Get Up Kids on reverb with a good understanding of keyboards; "Come On, Come On" has this boot-kick beat to it, as if its asking a bunch of alt-kids to line dance.

But, this album is about two songs to long, mostly tailing at the end. "Turn My Grave" seems out of place, "Forfeit to Win" is an excellent song, but takes the energy down a notch; a good concept structure-wise, though I don't think the band really pushes it as far as it could go. The middle of it has this odd breakdown that should have gone more punk, but settles for garage-band noodling.

But the first nine of this album really pushes IWTDI forward, pulling in some new arrangements while making sure the core catchy punk pop is well preserved. Lumping this band in with any Warped Tour emo-synth-pop wannabes would be a mistake--IWTDI only flirts for fun with those bands, and takes the best elements that has developed in that scene and makes them tantalizingly better. Its obvious that the band is not done yet artistically, that they still are capable of making some great trips, though they don't have all the roads figured out.

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