O V E R V I E W
You know that special, certain something you’re looking forward to with immense anticipation? It can literally be anything at all. A particular day in the calendar year, a trip, a reunion with a long-lost friend or family member, or even that coveted album you’ve been anxiously waiting on for what feels like forever. With the drop of each single or music video, you’re lusting for more grows bigger and deeper, and the days pass like months making it feel like the day of release will never arrive. That is EXACTLY how it’s gone down for me waiting ever so ‘patiently’ for The Word Alive’s upcoming album Monomania. Finally, my cravings had been satiated the day I received my demo copy, and at long last the wait was finally over. I like many fans find it hard to decipher the time which translates to make actual sense, between one album’s release from the last when it comes to certain bands, and after The Word Alive’s last release (Violent Noise, which I also had the distinct pleasure of reviewing), whether it was one day or one hundred, I couldn’t help but wonder when the next ‘feeding’ would come. It was with the subtle hints both the band and their vocalist Telle Smith had begun to drop on their Instagram’s and other social media that I, among other fans, started to see that something was a-brewin’. The touches of bright, fluorescent pink with the black simply drawn smiley face eluded to new music being on the horizon. Telle even went as far as dying his hair the same hot pink. And, on the first of November, we got our first taste with “Burning Your World Down”. From the loss of love to the subject of death, MONOMANIA runs the emotional gamut. Monomania is a noun which means ‘exaggerated or obsessive enthusiasm for or preoccupation with one thing’. A fitting term that can apply to literally any individual on this fine planet of ours (my obsession with the release of new The Word Alive music not withstanding). We all obsess over SOMETHING, and that usually does tend to be one specific subject. Sadness and/or fear are typically the elements in one’s life that we can’t help but focus on beyond the reach of anything else that may be going on. MONOMANIA serves to be the voice for our concerns and apprehensions.
F L O W / L O N G E V I T Y / O R I G I N A L I T Y
An album’s flow can dictate whether the project in its entirety make any sense both as a whole and even each track on its own. It also helps to decide if the music is overall enjoyable, and on these marks The Word Alive hit the nail on the head. The song’s ebbs and flows fluctuate perfectly in the sense that while some songs retain a softer touch while others lean on the more aggressive side of the scale, they fit well together, and each tracks placement makes sense in the final listening experience. The only potential issue is that while each song definitely has its own identity, the overall sound sadly does not differ a great deal, sometimes making it feel like multiple songs are a singular, larger track. It’s actually in the initial three (“Monomania”, “No Way Out”, and “Searching For Glory”) tracks that this is most apparent. I will state again that when listened to on their own each songs has its own fantastic merits, but if one was to simply have the album playing in the background while they were working on a certain task or just not giving the music their full attention, they’d reach a few songs in and barely even realize the songs had changed. On the other hand a set of tracks like “K.F.” (which is a harrowing tale of a friend who’s life had come to an untimely end), “Burning Your World Down” (which slaps ya in the face with a little rage and bangin’), and “Comfort & Chaos” (a more alternative siding track which leans more on its ambience that any sort of heaviness) show a more varied and diverse range. As a whole the album absolutely flows well enough that it is beyond enjoyable. But unlike Violent Noise where I feel each track truly expressed itself in the most individualistic ways from any the others, MONOMANIA sadly doesn’t quite deliver the same feel.
How long an album retains its listenability is fairly subjective on any given listener’s love for the album I feel. Just like anything else, there are people who will love it, hate, and then all of the in between. For someone like myself The Word Alive albums will always have the stay power to keep in regular circulation on my playlists because in my eyes I find it hard for the band to do much wrong. It’s the songs that grab you, that can make an entire album worth listening to again and again. “K.F.” was absolutely one of those stand out tracks for me. I too lost a very close, personal friend not too long ago. The loss devastated many, as my friend hadn’t even hit the age of thirty when he met his fate. So, this song resounded within my core in a very immense and powerful way. Emotions were stirred and I found this song to help to be a release for pain I had not quite yet come to terms with. “Numb Love (Misery II)” was another song that just reeled me in to the wonderful madness of MONOMANIA if for no other reason that its ambient elements throughout the verses and Telle’s soaring vocals in each chorus. That is one thing (among many) that MONOMANIA definitely has in spades for one reason or another; songs that just pull the listener in and leave them craving for more.
Is MONOMANIA the most original piece of music I’ve heard as of late? No. It is not. But again, I don’t think that really takes away from the overall listening experience or the fact that it’s a solid AF written album. This is a sore spot for me when it comes to music in general. People always bitch and moan that they’ve heard something before. Well in one sense, they’re not wrong. There will always be aspects of all music that you’ve heard similarities of in other songs or albums. But really when you think about it, that actually does not mean you’ve heard the exact same thing before. That’s impossible for the simple fact that this exact album hasn’t been created before now. Deeply philosophical I know…but them’s the facts. So in that regard, sure, MONOMANIA is original in the sense that The Word Alive only just created it, and if you love a band and their music, then that should be enough. MONOMANIA shows The Word Alive taking a softer approach as a whole, but for me this actually made the album great in its own right. I feel that Telle’s vocals suit this style of music perfectly. And in that made this album an entirely new listening experience.
from the album MONOMANIA – Available Feb 21, 2020 Pre-Order at http://found.ee/monomania Merch: http://found.ee/monomania_merch Spotify: http://found.ee/monomania_sp Apple Music: http://found.ee/monomania_am iTunes: http://found.ee/monomania_it Amazon: http://found.ee/monomania_amz Amazon Music: http://found.ee/monomania_amzm Google Play: http://found.ee/monomania_gp Stay Connected with The Word Alive: Website: https://www.wearethewordalive.com/ Facebook: https://found.ee/twafacebook Instagram: https://found.ee/twainstagram Twitter: https://found.ee/twatwitter Stay Connected with Fearless Records: Website: http://www.fearlessrecords.com/ Facebook: https://found.ee/FearlessFB Instagram: https://found.ee/FearlessIG Twitter: https://found.ee/FearlessTW Subscribe to Fearless Records on Youtube: http://found.ee/fr_youtube Directed by: Orie McGinness https://www.spvce.studio/ LYRICS Does anybody even care?
V O C A L S / I N S T R U M E N T A T I O N
The vocals. OH MY GOD, THE VOCALS. Telle Smith has to be one of the greatest clean vocalists in the core world hands down. With each release, even the newest of fans or the ones who just never pay the closest of attention to detail, would be able to tell a noticeable change in what that dude is able to produce. Some vocalists lose certain abilities over time due to any number of circumstances, but Telle only seems to grow and improve on his capabilities as a clean singer. It’s on tracks like “No Way Out” where he hits the highest of notes during the chorus, or the heavy hitter “Thank You” where his range moans and bellows from the lowest lows to the highest peaks. But it’s the raw emotion that oozes out of his vocal cords and into your heart and mind that truly make him such a talented singer. MONOMANIA shows Telle using less screams than on any previous release, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s possibly due to some form of strain he has experienced. Whether it be “Burning Your World Down”, “Thank You”, The bridge of “Death Is Only The End If You Assume The Story Is About You”, you hear Telle hitting a bit of a higher pitch with his screams, but while still sounding excellent they sound almost painful. Perhaps, that’s why you do hear less screams on the album. But I assure you this does not take away from the album for one single moment.
Well the instrumentation could have been one of the main contributors as to why some songs flowed so seamlessly into one another to the point of being ever so slightly indistinguishable. This is for sure The Word Alive’s least intricate album. Not that they have ever been the most complex musically, but it feels that due to focusing on the more alternative side of the core sound, that some of the instrumentation either took a back seat to the vocals or perhaps the band felt that using a more simplistic approach was the way to achieve the direction they were trying to obtain. This does not make the album boring for one second, albeit some tracks sounding a bit samey in that realm. It’s songs like “Thank You” and “Burning Your World Down” that seem to switch styles up a bit more to shake shit up, whereas songs like “Another Year In The Shadows” and “I’m Sorry You’re Sorry Now” rely on a more straight forward sound. One thing listeners can expect to hear more of on MONOMANIA than on past releases is the ramping up on the use of electronic and ambient touches. These elements though were used more to accentuate certain moments in songs and add an additional layer rather than relied on too heavily and taking away further from the ‘standard’ instruments one would expect on a rock/core album.
C O M P O S I T I O N / P R O D U C T I O N
Lyrically this album came together in a wondrous way. Telle seems to be not only on point with what he can do vocally but has poured every ounce of himself into each and every word. When listening to the words you can’t help but put yourself in the very moment Telle put pen to paper. The words are not just there to be sung but tell an actual story on every single song. Sonically the album can lose itself here and there as the overall sound doesn’t always differ immensely from another songs. But that isn’t to say that the emotion and capabilities don’t shine through in their own right. It isn’t that the music itself doesn’t tell a story, the story is just a bit clearer when you listen to the words paired with it. One thing is for sure (as hypocritical as it may sound), the group did care what they put out and what the fans heard. Each song on its own was written very well and pack a lot of punch. It’s simply that on an entire album sometimes those emotions and tales run into one another.
The production though on MONOMANIA is top tier. When reviewers receive a demo copy for review, it isn’t that often you receive something of perfect quality. My point being that every note and tone flourishes and layers in such a harmonious way on this album that you can tell the mixing and production value is beyond reproach. It is even this simple fact that makes MMONOMANIA even more enjoyable than it already is. The sound is rich and impactful in a way that makes every single song sound crisp and clear, and truly expands on what you hear as a whole.
from the album MONOMANIA – Available Feb 21, 2020 Pre-Order at http://found.ee/monomania Merch: http://found.ee/monomania_merch Spotify: http://found.ee/monomania_sp Apple Music: http://found.ee/monomania_am iTunes: http://found.ee/monomania_it Amazon: http://found.ee/monomania_amz Amazon Music: http://found.ee/monomania_amzm Google Play: http://found.ee/monomania_gp Stay Connected with The Word Alive: Website: https://www.wearethewordalive.com/ Facebook: https://found.ee/twafacebook Instagram: https://found.ee/twainstagram Twitter: https://found.ee/twatwitter Stay Connected with Fearless Records: Website: http://www.fearlessrecords.com/
F I N A L T H O U G H T S
I absolutely love The Word Alive. No matter what they release, I find myself becoming a greater fan with each song and album. There was zero chance that I wasn’t going to love MONOMANIA in some shape or form. That being said, I did possibly hope for a bit more. In the end I thoroughly enjoyed the album and each song on it, but after an album like Violent Noise that aside from leaning on the softer side of things when compared to the groups past releases, showed that The Word Alive were the furthest thing from a one trick pony and could incorporate a multitude of genres and sounds into one album and have it make sense and blow some of us away. MONOMANIA is anything but a step backwards, but I feel they could have perhaps given a bit more focus on having a bit more variation overall. The album undoubtedly packs an emotionally raw punch lyrically and absolutely has songs to fit multiple moods. But I do feel myself longing for a bit more. Would I recommend this album to any fan of The Word Alive? Without a moment’s hesitation, yes. And to add to that I feel this is a perfect album to introduce a new fan who may not be the avid listener to anything too heavy or aggressive. But I sadly have a feeling that this will leave some long-time fans feeling much like I did. It could have been more. But at the risk of back peddling on certain comments I’ve made, I do thoroughly dig this album. It’s a Telle-centric release in my humble opinion, and I have no problems with that. I had eagerly been awaiting new The Word Alive and in that sense my needs have been beyond satiated.