Thursday, June 9, 2011

With Shivering Hearts We Wait – Blindside

Rating 4/10

Blindside began building nationwide popularity with their single “Pitiful” in 2002. This is of course the same year that singles were released by bands such as The Strokes, The Vines, The White Stripes, and Queens of the Stone Age. With this in mind I believe it’s fair to say the Blindside had the times on their side regarding their popularity as mainstream rock music began to pull away from the Nu Metal genre and branch into different sounds. Furthermore, Blindside had Christ on their side, in a sense, as the sub culture of Christian rock music gave new attention to bands such P.O.D. who would ultimately take Blindside under their wing. Now, nearly ten years later, Blindside has released a new album entitled With Shivering Hearts We Wait to a music scene that is quite different then the one they left behind.

After a four year hiatus, Blindside once again teamed up with producer Howard Benson with whom they had worked with on two previous albums; their most commercially successful ones to date. This decision reflects heavily on the sound of the album as the production influences a significant amount of appeal at the core of the songs themselves. This is evident in the opening track “There Must Be Something in the Water”, as the song closes with dramatically orchestrated strings that will only leave a live version of this track sounding empty and lacking. While these tactics are used often and plentiful throughout the album, they tend to just come off as gimmicky like in the closing track “There Must Be Something in the Wind” as the rock song simply fades into a random techno beat and then once again into orchestrated strings to end the album.

Musically the album always seems to be grasping at something more than just the typical post-hardcore licks that Blindside has been known for. This is evident on the track “My Heart Escapes” with bouncy verses that feature guitars that sound heavily influenced by a post-punk sound. However, the potential of something more musically developed always fades as the songs progress. Vocally and lyrically is where the album seems to be lacking the most. For the most part the vocals are simply static, producing a style that seems expected, but there are a few tracks in which the lyrics are just too corny. “Monster on the Radio” seems to be the bands attempt to actually create another radio single with an ironic line “I’ll give everything I have and more to be a monster on the radio” and then there’s the track “Bloodstained Hollywood Ending” which features a cliché chorus of “I crossed my heart and hoped to die”.

There is a point on the album where everything seems to fall into place showcasing Blindside’s ability to write great songs “Our Love Saves Us” is where the potential really manifests itself and you can see what Blindside was trying to accomplish with this album by utilizing synth effects to create an airier atmosphere and emotionally engaging vocals that move the listener.

The overall impression of With Shivering Hearts We Wait is a post-hardcore album that has simply been repackaged with a less appealing turn around. Ultimately, Blindside has created an album that isn’t terrible but is easily forgettable.

Album Highlights: Our Love Saves Us, There Must Be Something in the Wind

Album Low Points: Monster on the Radio, Bloodstained Hollywood Ending

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