A Reintroduction: The Essence of All That Surrounds Me
(Equal Vision Records)
The hardcore outfit Capsize gained traction with their debut release, The Angst in My Veins, back in 2014. Now, two years later their follow up is here and set to abandon everything they initially established. A Reintroduction: The Essence of All That Surrounds Me is exactly what it sounds like: a second start for a second sound to Capsize. Apart from being the longest, most burdensome-to-type album title thus far released in 2016, it serves as an ironically concise way to inform listeners that this record is not a hardcore album. Instead, the record (which will now only be referred to as A Reintroduction) is post-hardcore with a capital P.
I don’t want to dislike A Reintroduction. I honestly don’t. I admire Capsize for altering their musical route to satisfy their artistic drive. And the singles “XX (Sew My Eyes)” and “Tear Me Apart” are solid jams. However, this is basically a second debut record, and tragically, it sounds like a first studio attempt at song writing and recording. The clean vocals are muddy and strained at best, which is unfortunate since it’s commendable that vocalist Daniel Wand wanted to transition to clean vocals from hardcore screams to round out his band’s sound. While there is an equal balance of both, the cross over to cleans is just not strong enough to carry A Reintroduction.
There’s a lack of annunciation in the more melodic lines that really hinders the album as a whole. Think of your boozy friend after a few glasses of Malbec and you’ll get the vibe of the track “One Day I Won’t Be So Easy To Forget.” Words are slurred and jumbled together and the lyrical depth is that of a 15-year-old punk girl’s diary. (Do 15-year-old punk girls have diaries? Tumblr, maybe?) “Lie to me, lie about me/I’ll be your favorite secret/like when we fell in love and never told a soul,” Wand belts out on “Favorite Secret.” There’s something childish yet so real about this line that makes the continued theme of failed infatuation okay, but at the same time forces the listener to question why the emo revival is happening again.
It’s very apparent that staple early 2000s alternative rock bands like The Used or Hawthorne Heights helped influence this resurgence of post-hardcore in Wand’s performance. Which leads to two questions: Can something ‘post’ really resurge? And if so, can it do so successfully? In Capsize’s instance, I would say no. They don’t add much to a genre that was already neatly wrapped up with a box and shipped off for Christmas. Tracks like “Over You” and “Split My Soul” offer catchy riffs and noteworthy bridges, respectively, but nothing really original or worth delving into.
More issues emerge with songs like “I Think It’s Best We Don’t Talk Anymore,” that feature titles that offer more angst in this record’s veins than Capsize’s prior release. “I’ll never make the choice, so pull the plug on me/it’s not safe to be like me.” Oh, self-pity, how unmarketable you are in 2016. Honestly, it’s a real downer of a record that lacks the maturity and experience of masterful instrumental writing to allow the harsh lines to benefit the record over all. Perhaps if the bridges were more akin to The Used’s “Cry” or the riffs to My Chem’s “I’m Not Okay,” there would be a sense of irony in the words to help smooth out a rather dark and dull collection of ten songs.
“Safe Place” is really the only track to offer a break from the relentless repetition of 2005. It’s a whispery, toned down moment on the album that serves an unintentional interlude since it veers so far off from the five tracks that precede it. If Capsize could incorporate more moments like this throughout their next release, perhaps the band would find more success. But until then, I’d much rather listen to the OG post-hardcore bands than a flawed copy.