Alternative rock encompasses many subgenres, making rock sensation The Spill Canvas hard to classify. Do the heart-wrenching ballads on their debut, “Sunsets & Car Crashes,” make them emo? Or are the sardonically splendid rock tunes on their sophomore release reminiscent of pop-punk? Their latest album, “No Really, I’m Fine,” answers those questions as the band goes in an exclusively electric direction, and the new sound won’t disappoint.
After the 2005 gem “One Fell Swoop,” the band had a lot to live up to. But the new album’s first songs are promising. “Reckless Abandonment” hurtles head-on with driving drums and vocals, though the superficial lyrics are disappointing coming from singer Nick Thomas, who is known for heartfelt, mature songwriting. Still, “All Over You,” the album’s first single, follows with the perfect ingredients for a hit: sensitive lyrics, catchy rhythms, and the expressive vocals that made girls everywhere fall in love with Thomas.
The third song, “Battles,” epitomizes Spill’s sound. The lyrics are pure poetry: “Bound by my own disposition/The endless hunt to find fruition.” Slide guitar complements the gorgeous melodies typical of Spill’s music.
Unfortunately other songs are unimpressive. “Saved,” for example, works best as a sleep aid. “Connect the Dots” is beautifully orchestrated with the same epic feel of “This Is for Keeps,” the token love song on “One Fell Swoop.” Thomas’s sexy vocals and imagery, while somewhat repetitive, are heart-melting.
The finale redeems the album’s more forgettable songs. “Lullaby” is the only acoustic song, paying homage to the days when Spill was primarily acoustic. The soothing guitar strumming is beautiful and packed with emotion. The lyrics really do “Sing you to sleep,” as Thomas croons in each verse.
Though “One Fell Swoop” still reigns as the band’s crowning achievement, “No Really, I’m Fine” should please even the purists of Spill Canvas’s acoustic days. It’s a flawed but genuinely enjoyable rock album with some brilliant songs. This album represents the final stage in the band’s evolution from an acoustic act to an electric quartet, and though the sound is louder, Spill Canvas remains passionate and poetic, with integrity rarely found in modern music.
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