Review by Holly Aker.
I See Stars has never been known as a pioneer of the hardcore genre. The band has never pushed the musical envelope or done anything groundbreaking, but they definitely have a knack for making fun yet slightly repetitive “electronicore”. The band’s newest album, The End of the World Party, is no different.
The new album is very similar in sound to I See Star’s debut full-length, 3-D, but with a few modifications. Probably the most noticeable change is the increased use of auto-tune on singer Devin Oliver’s vocals. While auto-tune is completely acceptable in this genre, the same electronically tweaked voice becomes a little redundant after 11 songs.
In fact, the beginning of the song “Over It” is one of the only instances where fans get to hear Oliver’s natural sound. With his irresistibly soft, almost throaty, whisper-in-your-ear voice, it’s still a mystery to me why I See Stars didn’t leave out the auto-tune and let the boy sing more often.
The band also greatly increased their use of synth on nearly every song on the new album. Most of the songs on 3-D used heavy guitars as the main sound, and the electronic beats acted as an additional element. However on The End of the World Party, I See Stars switched the roles of synth and guitars so much that the band nearly loses the “core” in “electronicore.”
The album’s biggest shortfall is in its lyrics. People usually expect sophomore albums to be more mature and contain lyrics to prove that the band has grown up a bit since the first album. Unfortunately, I See Stars seemed to lose a lot of their maturity. Songs like “Home for the Weekend” and “It Will Be Up (High School Never Ends)” sound like they could be from any teenybopper sensation popular at the moment. While this may have been I See Star’s attempt to go more mainstream, it might have cost them a chunk of their older and more mature fans.
With that said, the album definitely has it’s strengths. Screamer Zach Johnson brings back his high yet powerful screams which are excellently demonstrated on songs like “The End of the World Party,” “The Common Hours II” and “Upside Down.” If I See Stars had incorporated his growl just a little more, the overly-poppy lyrics would have been completely forgiven.
While it may not be the most intellectual album, The End of the World Party is just like the name suggests: a party. It’s a fun, cute album that will get fans bopping their heads, jumping around and occasionally thrashing about.
Rating: 6 of 10