- Are You Listening?
Emo is one of the great paradoxes of our time. Everything in the emo world is sadness, so they take great pleasure (sadness?) in the fact no one understands them, and thus more emo is produced as more people give emo albums bad reviews, causing more people to dislike emo, thus causing even more emo to be made, and then you can't be insane because you're smart enough to try and feign insanity to get out of flying bomber missions, so you have to fly more missions, even if it drives you insane.
We'll ignore that Catch-22 and hold Quickening's Are You Listening accountable for it's own actions and nothing more. I will start by mentioning that bad vocals need not prove a fatal blow to an album. With proper mixing and music, lesser voices can become quite pleasing to the ears. Are You Listening does not have those qualities. The vocals prove a fatal blow, which the rest of the band cannot correct.
As the vocals are such a driving force in the album, a cursory examination of the lyrics is in order. "Goodbye Again" has a real winner. While talking about his girlfriend, says he: "Am I the best kid for you/Even though I ignore you/Every single night/When I'm playing with my band/You got the mind to go pack/But your heart brings you back." Whoever this girl is, she obviously means so little to James Isom that his singing about how bad life is takes precedence over the one hope of a happy life he seems to have. Puzzling, to be true.
"Are You Listening" (The first track, not the full album) has a decent intro, which lasts nearly 15 seconds. For some reason they decided it would be a good idea to have the vocals twice as loud as everything else. I got on the equalizer and tried to minimize the vocals, and my impressions of "Abe" were greatly improved. The guitars are the usual punk rock stylings, usually in the form of short intros before the mumbling starts. These are almost the saving grace of the album from bad to mediocre, but then those vocals start up again and you forget about all that is good and return to your world of darkness. If you find yourself too happy with life, listen to quickening for a little while. If the vocals don't get you, the lyrics will.
I'm tempted to ignore these flaws and give them a perfect score, because then Quickening will be joyous, happy with life, and stop making such bad music. Maybe I don't understand all your pain, and thus my mortal mind cannot appreciate the deeper meaning, but this album is annoyingly voiced, to the point of cringing at "This Is Ours", and thus it must be struck down. Are you listening? You shouldn't be.
- Nick Petschl
- Are You Listening?
- Collision Course
- Here's a Tip
- While You Were Sleeping
- Goodbye Again
- Periodic Table of the Elements
- Eyes & Ears
- This Is Ours
- 1,000 Thoughts and No Words