Disclaimer: I loved “Is Dead” in fact, I’ve loved everything this band has done. This record is going to get shit on EVERYWHERE. The hardcore kids won’t like it because it doesn’t sound like their old music. The indie-scene- whateverthefuckyouwanttocallit kids won’t like it because it’s too abrasive, and hipsters won’t like it because they only like it when the Dirty Projectors try punk. So if you fit into one of these groups, I say, let your guard down and listen to this record because if you come into it expecting something you’ve heard before or if you’re expecting something that can easily be pigeonholed you are wrong. Crime in Stereo just gave a big fuck you to everyone. The leap this band just made is like the leap Radiohead made from Pablo Honey to The Bends. Crime In Stereo’s days of straight up pop-punk are gone. They’ve moved on to something more experimental that immediately makes one think of the direction Brand New went. However, this is not Crime in Stereo jumping on Brand New’s success.
“I Was Trying to Describe You To Someone” starts off with “Queue Moderns” which begins with a electronic drum loop before heading and a verse before heading into a more traditional sounding CIS chorus. It continues with “Drugwolf” which sounds fractured, emotional and powerful. The vocals are strangely paired with the music—it’s off-putting at first, but after a few listens you will fall in love. The band continues the progress they made from “Is Dead” and throws in much more effect-laden guitar parts and even utilizes a lot of vocal effects. “Exit Halo” is a brooding track with soaring guitars and a pronounced bass line; the double-tracked vocals add a great amount of emotion to the build up of singer Kristian Hallbert’s screams. “Not Dead” is reminiscent of “Shape of Punk to Come” era Refused meeting “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me” from Brand New. There is a newfound aggression in this band that we hadn’t seen on their last effort. The hard-to-soft dyamic of the song is a great transition without being contrived.
“Young” is a wonderful ballad-like offering whose opening chords draw you in. The standout point here is the power behind Hallbert’s vocals over the soothing guitar part. This song is bound to become a crowd favorite. CIS again demonstrate their mastery of the hard-soft dynamic. “Type one” continues and is a journey all in its own. I’d say this song is almost perfect. “Republica” is overtly political in its lyrical content, and is anathematic. Dissonance is definitely a theme of this record. The song moves in a wave-like fashion. We see CIS remake one of their older songs “Dark Island City” which is lyrically only about a paragraph long. This much slowed-down and deliberative version really hits home, and is easily one of the standout
tracks on the album. The last track “I Cannot Answer You Tonight” sounds almost like it could have came directly off of “I, Stateside”.CIS on this record kept throwing curveballs and change-ups, and to stick with a baseball analogy, some people will not be able to adapt to the changing tide of the pitches. But those who can will clearly see why this album is a massive leap forward from these 5 dudes from Levittown, Long Island. Congrats to CIS, they’ve truly made their own niche in their respective “scene” a feat done by few successfully.