At its best moments, Sickness combines a dolce, Jonny Craig-esque clean vocalist with an intense and expressive unclean that feels like the best memories of early 2010s Warped Tour favorites. The simplistic instrumentation fits snug into the band’s presentation but can grow uninteresting at points.
Lead singer Sean Midson is a powerhouse on Sickness. He plays the ground between two very diverse styles of clean and unclean vocals. A grit and roundness akin to Dance Gavin Dance-era Jonny Craig and Mayday Parade’s Derek Sanders exist in Midson’s vocals. They radiate a warmth that compels the listener onwards. The vocal intensity of Midson’s unclean vocals is definite and contributes vigorously to the intensity of songs like Regret.
However, there is a main obstacle for lead singer Sean Midson to surmount. Their unclean vocals.
Midson tends to switch between pitches that put emphasis on moments that don’t mesh well. The abrasive sound that ensues detracts from listenability.
If Midson can either keep his phrases at the same consistency or find the sweet spot behind their pitch changes, they’ll be able to provide an incredibly dynamic layer to the song.
For example, the differing pitches on Loss contrast sharply with the lovely harmonic background in the intro. Comparatively in Regret, the unclean vocals feel consistently powerful and well maintained.
In Sinking, there’s a thin line for Midson’s uncleans that totters between great and rough. The killer layering between guitar and percussion in the intro set the stage for a power moment for Midson. He does a solid job of fitting into and completing the moment, but the pitch changes keep him from fully setting in.
There’s an air that comes from Sickness’ introspective lyrics that has an undeniable charm.
However, the subject of the lyrics in Sickness feels a little too “me” oriented. There are often generalized statements in the lyrics. Lyrics such as “I just want to forget about everything that made me who I was” and “I’ll end up all alone, forever on my own” swing just a tad too broadly. When you combine the very introspective nature of the lyrics with these generalizations, you fulfill a recipe for problematic lyrics.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with introspective lyrics. Bands like Hail the Sun and Eidola have proven lyrics can be not only introspective, but compelling. The heavy use of sweeping, generalizing statements in the lyrics prevents the details of introspective lyrics from happening. That’s hurting the message of Create to Inspire.
The instrumentation of the band beautifully plays into the sound of Sickness.
The dissonant chord introduction in Recluse kicks into a stellar drum fill that propels the entire song forward with great energy. It’s just as you’d hope in a good Post-Hardcore group. The intro in Blue is low, harsh, and moves towards an explosive kick-snare line that brings the hype. Although I can’t call it original, the instrumentation does a great job of nailing some of the best features of Post.
The moments that are meant to be soft work beautifully- one of my favorite moments in the album is the sweet layered of the instrumental track Outlet. All in all, the instrumentation is well-wrapped together, and diverse without trying too hard.
Percussionist Luke Taylor fills the percussion space with exciting rhythms and killer fills that move the energy fantastically. Songs like Sinking and Blue give showcases to standalone percussion moments. Always rhythmically seamless, Taylor does a solid job of setting the foundation and going beyond.
Overall, Sickness presents exceptional clean vocals with strong renditions of oft-occurring Post Hardcore Instrumentation.
There isn’t an abundance of surprises, but the acoustic intro of Adjust made me smile. The lyrics of Sickness are very “me” oriented, and tend to tire out in the second half of the album. Occasional breakdowns, tremolo guitar, group vocals and call/response moments give additional bits to flesh this album out and leave me satisfied overall.
Reflecting back at what 2010 post was like, I strongly believe the genre has started to provide bands that experiment with complexity. While many moments of Sickness rock hard and stick well in a listener’s head, I think there’s a complexity that’s missing from the sound of Sickness.