The Devil Wears Prada
Luckily for The Devil Wears Prada, Mike Hranica’s vocal style is incredibly recognizable, because if it wasn’t I’m not sure I would have pegged their latest release, Transit Blues, as one of their own. TDWP is notorious for their skillset in changing their musical structures and tones tactfully and consistently but still staying true to the metalcore genre. It’s very hard to compare prior works like Zombie and Space, even though they are both EPs with full concept stories attached to them because sonically they are so diverse. Stylistically, Transit Blues follows suit.
Dissecting this record, a listener will hear a blast of variety. There’s a more lighthearted, pop side to the record with tracks like the travel diary “Worldwide.” Though opening with a rather ethereal intro, the track carries on into catchy choruses and an overall upbeat vibe. Fast forward one track more and you reach “Lock & Load,” which is devoid almost entirely of melody in place of a stark rhythmic section and harsh vocals. As the song focuses more on the controversial topic of gun control, it resembles more spoken word poetry than it does a metal song. In the end, however, both tracks stand on solid ground to keep the record afloat.
Transit Blues is based off of the band’s personal experiences living the tricky life that being on the road constantly demands, but it is also greatly focused on literature and the art of storytelling. From the incredible opener “Praise Poison” drawing influence from William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and “To the Key of Evergreen” derived from the concepts of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Transit Blues is both intellectual as well as relatable. This concept blends together, especially with tracks like “Home For Grave pt2,” a continuation off of part one from 2013’s 8:18. Once again, TDWP visits the story of the widow Anna after her husband’s death. “She wishes the trees weren’t so still[…]Move along, now, you’re next,” the track warns in a very stylized setting. Though a bit dragging musically, the concept behind the tale saves it and continues to validate the band’s gift for lyricism.
Like many bands before, The Devil Wears Prada is not afraid to step into more atmospheric territory, even if their dabbling is more minimal than most. This otherworldly vibe pokes its head out with the track “Submersion,” which successfully mimics the feel of descending into water, both musically and conceptually. This trend can be subtly found again in the backing instrumentals on the opening clean vocals of “The Condition,” a smart move that brings an already well laid out track up just a few more notches.
Transit Blues is an easy record to get lost in. For the most part, it all blends together seamlessly without feeling redundant or like one continuous song. Unfortunately, it has several moments where filler tracks like “Flyover States” and “Detroit Tapes” come off weak in comparison to the tight-knit nature of the rest of the record. In other words, the instrumentation on the former is fantastic and the unclean vocals of both Hranica and The Chariot’s Stevis Harrison on the latter are killer, but leave the listener wanting something more tangible to take away.
At the end of the day, Transit Blues is a true to form record that continues to display the progression of The Devil Wears Prada both musically and lyrically. It strays from sounding too repetitive of the work they’ve done in the past, yet fits well among the rest of their discography in full. TDWP fans will not be disappointed with this record by a long shot.