Hello, I’m MusiCommentator, and I have yet to review a rock album. I have reviewed a couple of rock songs before, but never a whole album. Rock is quite an expansive genre, so I feel it would be good for me to do one. Sleeping With Sirens just came out with a new album, so I checked that out.
Sleeping With Sirens is an alternative rock band signed to Rise Records. They released their first album “With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear” in 2010, and this helped them pick up a lot of their angsty teenage fanbase. They followed this up the year after with “Let’s Cheer To This”, and from a personal standpoint, I believe both of these albums are great. I am not saying they are revolutionary or anything, but the hardcore, emo style is really one that is easy to pick up and like. In 2013, they released “Feel”, which was a little different from their first two albums. While they still gave their audience a plethora of hard rock songs, they also departed a lot to make some indie tracks that do not fit their style at all. This is what made “Madness”, their 2015 release, a lot worse, since indie songs dominated mostly the entire album. I am using the term indie lightly here; it is more of an acoustic sound they are hitting, but it does not suit them either way.
Knowing how much their last two albums declined in quality, going into this album was a mixed bag. It could be a lot of terrible, washy acoustic tracks, but I also heard in an interview that they were trying to go back to their old style, which gives me a lot of hope. The album cover is pretty cool, too, so maybe they will be able to deliver on the same sound they did with their first two albums. The only way to find out would be to listen to the album.
Sleeping With Sirens puts their title track right at the beginning of the album, and it starts out promising. The instrumental in the first dozen seconds is just a rhythmic clapping over Kellin Quinn’s voice. It is almost like it is building tension to see what the instrumentals will actually be like. In this song specifically, the drums are decent, but the guitars reflect a strong sense of pop rock. This is not bad, per se, but it does not emulate their old style at all. I will give props to the lyrics, though. In the first clapping part, it feels like Kellin is addressing the audience on how this album will play out, and when the instruments come in, he is addressing a girl and how a relationship with him could go, as long as she does not listen to the lies. And, this chorus is one of the best on the album. The “about me” section is very catchy and fun to sing along to, and it feels like they all enjoyed making this song. However, when the ad-libs start happening in the chorus, I cringe. He just does not do them well. To me, they are worse than Migos ad-libs. But, for the start of an album, this song is pretty decent. Still, I have hope that more heavier rock will come.
#2: Empire To Ashes
This song is the closest thing we get to a teen rebellion song on this album. Acting as the second single to the project, this song is just about going against the system, like all teens want to hear. While some bands can do good with this theme, the lyrics on here are a hot mess. I know that a lot of rock lyrics are written to be vague, and that is part of the many appeals to rock, but these lyrics are all over the place. In the second verse, Kellin sings “If life is a needle then my soul is the thread/My mouth is the poison, my tongue is the lead”. What does that even mean? I have no idea. This song redeems everything bad about it though, because in the bridge, there is this amazing hardcore instrumental where the guitars break down into some grittier chords and the drums compliment it nicely. It reminds so much of their old albums. If that small interlude is any indicator of what the rest of this albums will sound like, then I’m ready!
This is the lead single for the album, so you think it would be some hard rock, right? Nope. It’s a pop hit. It is meant to be an inspirational song, but like Katy Perry’s “Pendulum” (which I covered in my “Witness” Album Review) it fails at being one. To be an inspirational song, I believe that there should be some personal affliction or at least some personality in it, but “Legends” does not have either. It is just a bunch of platitudes stuck together with a pop rock beat so generic I am surprised it did not come from an online generator. The worst part of this song is that it is set to be the 2018 Paralympic theme. I feel bad for those poor, competing souls if their theme songs has to be this.
At this point, I have given up on this album going back to their old style.
This song kind of reminds me of an Imagine Dragons song, only that this song does not have the same charm or power Imagine Dragons has. The lyrics are…a bit of a mess as well. From what I can tell, it is about him having a failing relationship, but the second verse talks about how he has no home, and it is all to hard to decipher. I guess you could say I had TROUBLE listening to this song (okay, I’ll stop).
#5: One Man Army
This song starts off with a guitar, possibly calling back to their indie days, but the poppy instruments come in shortly after. The lyrics, luckily, are easier to comprehend than the previous song. It is about how Kellin was on the bottom but came to the top. This is a pretty generic topic, but rarely do I hear it expressed in a pop or rock song. Apart from the lyrics, what is weird to me is that when the chorus hits, it sounds like a contemporary Christian song, like one you would hear on the Christian radio. The lyrics do not match with it, but if you go and turn on your Christian station right now, I bet you that you will find a song that has a similar audio aesthetic to this. There is one line I would like to point out: “Even when we’re losing, it doesn’t have to mean we’re losing”. Usually if there is a story where someone is lost in the woods or something like that, it rarely means that they are winning.
I was wrong when I said that “Empire To Ashes” was the only teen rebellion song on this album. What I should have said was that “Empire To Ashes” is the only good teen rebellion song on this album. Where do I even start with this track? I find it ironic how he calls out the “average joes” and “working stiffs” because this song sounds like it was written by a room full of corporate executives who were trying to relate to kids. The verses are just Kellin Quinn calling out different types of “outcasts” and saying how they do some mildly offensive stuff, like smoking and drinking. Plus, it is just funny how he says “Listen honey, I’m a lot like you” like he is trying to relate to these vagabonds. It is kind of tough believing that from a popular rock band that has been around for close to a decade now. And do not even get me started on the beat. When the chorus comes in, you can hear little dubstep synths that feel like a knockoff of Fall Out Boy’s “Young And Menace”, which already felt like a knockoff in itself. If you want to hear a Sleeping With Sirens song with the word “cheers” in it, I recommend you look up the title track to “Let’s Cheers To This”, because it is a lot better than this song.
I really have no idea what to say about this song. The lyrics are generic, the beat is generic, everything is generic. If you want to hear something good about this song, I think Kellin’s voice is pretty decent on it. His voice is not awful throughout the project, but I really like it here. This is also another song that feels like it belongs on the Christian channel, by the way, especially on the last guitar note fade out.
#8: Hole In My Heart
G O D P L E A S E E N D M Y S U F F E R I N G N O W
#9: I Need To Know
This song is the closest to one on the album to their indie songs from “Madness” or “Feel”. I will give it credit where credit is due: the lyrics are not bad. It talks about a crumbling relationship and the metaphors to the “night time calling” and the “rain falling” are spot on. My main problem is the instrumentals. They just sound so bored with themselves. This is not because it is a slower song. My sister is a big fan of indie band “City And Colour”, and I thought the few songs he showed of them were pretty decent. With this song, the guitars drag on and the drums are so slow. I said it before and I will say it again: indie songs do not match Sleeping With Sirens’ style.
#10: The Chase
Can someone please tell me what the heck “The Chase” means?
This song does a great job pointing out all the things that are wrong with this album from a lyrical standpoint. Just take a look at these two couplets:
“This house of lies is stained in blood
Been tearing down our monuments
And now our hope has turned to fear
And it all seems so unclear”
Notice how all of those lines have almost nothing to do with each other? When a rock song is vague, it usually makes its lines still connect and, even if they are coated in figurative language, make it fun for the listener to encrypt what they are saying. These lines, as you can tell, do not relate. It is not like a “…but…therefore…because…” type of structure that holds a lot of rock songs together. There is no cause and effect. It is just “…and then…and then…” and so on. This song is not a strong album ending.
Sleeping With Sirens really sold out, and they did it terribly. At least when Fall Out Boy sold out, we got some interesting hits. “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” has an amazing energy that is hard to replicate, and “Centuries” is one of the few songs that got me into listening to music. All of “Gossip”, on the other hand, has very few redeeming qualities. Rarely does an instrumental on this track not sound uninspired, and the lyrics have little energy in them. Kellin Quinn’s voice is okay most of the time, but there are some moments when I find myself wincing at it. The only thing that makes this album feel like a Sleeping With Sirens album, in fact, is the fact that Kellin is singing it. Any pop rock band could have made the same album and the result would be the same or better. It sucks to see Sleeping With Sirens turn out like this, because their alternative punk style really suited them a lot better.
If I had to pick a favorite song, it would be “Empire To Ashes”. This is mainly based off the instrumental interlude that makes me wish I was listening to one of their older albums instead. This song proves, too, that they still have the potential to make music like that. However, they chose to go this path instead. My least favorite song would be “Hole In My Heart” because W H Y H A S T H E L O R D F O R S A K E N U S (but seriously, I do not like this song because the lyrics and some of the instrumentals sound genuine but the entire execution is so not genuine, making this a waste of a song).
Overall, I would give this album a 2 out of 10. Do you agree?
Thank you for reading my “Gossip” album review. If you liked this review, make sure to follow my website, Twitter, and Instagram, like this post, and be sure to check in to read my future reviews. Also, if you have something you want to see me review, tell me in the comments. Until then, keep on apologizing to the Sleeping With Sirens fanbase for saying bad things about one of their albums! I know I will.