For Fans Of
It was only two years ago when I See Stars announced their arrival to the world with their debut record, 3-D. And with their sophomore release, The End of the World Party, the Michigan-based group have taken a light-hearted approach without abandoning their sound which has aided them snowballing in popularity. I’ve read that this band has been classed as post-hardcore, which I must protest to. Making use of scream vocals and a few misguided breakdowns doesn’t make you hardcore – at the very least, I’d class I See Stars as a somewhat confused pop-punk band whose work is spilling over with electronica vibes and party beats.
I don’t usually subscribe to, or really listen to, groups who tend to abuse keyboards and synthesizers but there is a quality in I See Stars that I was very surprised to find – catchiness. Catchiness is like gold to a punk group, if you can force listeners to tap their toes, or sing along, you’ve given yourself every chance to leave your mark.
I See Stars’ strength is in their lead vocalist, Devin Oliver, whose deceptively high range reminds me somewhat of a Cove Reber. Though, it’s hard to commend him with genuine praise when it’s so hard to gauge how much of his work is legitimate talent with auto-tune playing such a big part in their sound. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, though – his vocal melodies are the saving grace for this album, and are already rattling around in my head with no immediate signs of leaving. I might need to invest in a plunger, perhaps?
The End of the World Party opens with the titular track which, despite being a fine track reminiscent of recent Escape the Fate efforts, is a bit of a misrepresentation of things to come. It’s a very chug-heavy song which promises things the rest of the album doesn’t deliver. That said – if you appreciate each song for what it is, you’re bound to find a few gems tucked away in the mix. The last third of the track “Still Not Quite Enough” is a genuinely well-written scrap of music that calls to mind Owl City and his use of electronica sounds – perhaps an undocumented influence for I See Stars. A case where the laden use of auto-tune somewhat pays off is during “Home for the Weekend”, arguably the catchiest song on the record. Oliver’s vocal melodies, albeit aided by computers, really put a stamp on the party theme to this record.
I See Stars also prove they have the chops to write genuine pop-rock tracks, not too dissimilar to bands like Saosin and Circa Survive, with “Glow” helping bookend the record – which they almost make it through without resorting to use of whacky, unnecessary effects.
The record runs at almost forty minutes but, if I’m being frank, I think a handful of the later tracks are simply making up numbers, which is a shame. I See Stars could have easily trimmed these dead-weight tracks to craft a brilliantly catchy pop-punk EP, but instead we’re left with a slightly above average full-length that wears out its welcome too soon.
2. Over It
3. Still Not Quite Enough
5. Home for the Weekend
6. It Will Be Up (High School Never Ends)
7. Upside Down
8. The Common Hours II
9. Where I Let You Down (Numb)
11. Pop Rock and Roll