For Fans Of
Breathe Carolina are back for round three, but if you live by the saying third times the charm, then prepare to be disappointed. The main element separating It’s Classy, Not Classic and Hello Fascination was the move from a 2-piece garageband project solely made up of vocalists Kyle Even and David Schmitt to a vocal team that utilized a full band set up. Now in 2011, Breathe Carolina has released Hell Is What You Make It.
In many respects this album falls somewhere between the two earlier albums. The full band is only used in a handful of tracks, and Even’s screams are heard even less.
It is fair to say that the attraction of the Breathe Carolina package is the way the duo seamlessly plays off each other. The way that, in the past, they have bounced between Schmitt’s synth-laden auto-tuned vocals and breakdowns mixed with Even’s screams. However, at some point these two genres were going to clash.
The album opens with “Rebirth: An Introduction," which is a minute of echoed conversation, synth lines and Schmitt’s vocals. It is evident, even from this simple snippet that Schmitt’s vocals have improved, while still retaining that almost nasally quality that somehow makes him appealing to listen to. The next track “Wooly” is not only the best track on the album, but easily the best track Breathe Carolina have ever released. It is the quintessential Breathe Carolina song, bringing together the perfect mix of the band’s opposing sounds. The track seamlessly moves through a rollercoaster of synthy, club worthy sections led by Schmitt and heavy breakdowns featuring Even’s screams. However, the atmosphere created by this track will not last long. “Blackout” may not be the most memorable track on the album but it showcases the direction of the rest of the album to a tee. The track weaves in and out of a variety of synth sounds making this track perfect for a club. Schmitt proves that his vocals can definitely handle the whole track, but it makes Breathe Carolina almost seem like a solo project. “Edge Of Heaven” is a slower track, which favours clean vocals and synth lines. However Even’s and the backing band find a way to feature in the track every now and again with screams and heavier instrument lines. “Last Night (Vegas)” utilises the third type of song featured on this album. Again it is a slower more poppy song, best suited for the Top 40 radio countdown. It will be a favourite among diehard fans, however it is increasingly obvious that Hell Is What You Make It is Breathe Carolina’s stab at the mainstream radio world.
For the remainder of the album the backing band take a back seat, and instead of screams Even adds another clean layer of vocals behind Schmitt. Their harmonising works really well on “Gone So Long”. While this track isn’t as poppy and upbeat as the others, it does showcase that Breathe Carolina can mix up their sound a little bit, albeit still using synth beats throughout. The rest of the album is a mixture of club worthy, dance party hits and stabs at the Top 40. There is hardly any focus on screams this time around and while the clean vocals sound great, it almost feels like Breathe Carolina have lost some of their appeal by cutting out a lot of the heavier sections. The album closer, “Lauren’s Song” brings the hold band back. It is a beautiful tribute to a friend of theirs that passed away. Opening with acoustic instruments, synth lines are slowly added on until finally by the chorus Breathe Carolina remember they have a full band they can use. It is unlike anything else on the album, but is a strong way to close something that can easily be called mediocre.
Hell Is What You Make it is a mixed bag of tracks. No matter the atmosphere certain tracks (such as “Wooly”) create, the rest of the album proves that this is in many ways a departure from the sound that has gained Breathe Carolina it’s loyal fan base. It was only a matter of time before the band’s two distinct musical styles came to a head, pulling the band’s sound more in one direction than the other, losing the balance they had seemed to find with their previous releases. However, it cannot be said that this album isn’t catchy- because it definitely is. If nothing else, Breathe Carolina have proved that they will continue to make music that can get anyone dancing. The band is forcing itself to choose between the mosh pit and the dance floor- and only time will tell which style wins the battle.
1. Rebirth: An Introduction
4. Edge Of Heaven
5. Last Night (Vegas)
6. Sweat It Out
7. Gone So Long
8. They Say You Won’t Come Back
9. Get Off Easy
11. Take It Back
13. Lauren’s Song