Their last full-length, Pull the Thorns from Your Heart (2015), had Senses Fail going all-out in hardcore. The release was hard-hitting, powerful, and memorable in more ways than one. But rather than give it another go, the band has decided to return as the older sibling this year: punk/rock. It would appear that the Speak the Truth debut a few months back was more of a preview than realized for what was coming in 2018; granted, the two bands only share a singer (Nielsen), but the two records do sound related when played one after the other. However, between the two, If There Is A Light… is the stronger entry for a multitude of reason. Maybe the fact that Senses Fail have put in more continuous time together than the members of Speak the Truth has something to do with the difference, but that’s a discussion for another place.
Admittedly, there were some love/hate feelings to be had during the first few spins of this record; luckily, they eventually settled on the air of positive. Lyrically, this is a very dramatic and sad release; but instrumentally and vocally, it’s energetic and fun. Tracks like “New Jersey Makes, the World Takes” and “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…” are pure punk/rock goodness, featuring an early 2000s backbone of nostalgia (“I’m not giving up today / No-o-o-ooo” – “New Jersey Makes, the World Takes”) while tackling current events (“Fuck the government / it’s an embarrassment / we’re all going to die in debt” and “You’ve got to defend yourself from anyone who doesn’t think the same” – “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…”). And of course, the band has made sure to create yet another engrossing finale with its title track; it ranks right up there with “The Priest and the Matador” of Still Searching.
It would seem that Senses Fail can take on a variety of genre types and come up on top. If There Is A Light… co-exists as a powerfully emotional and energetically fused entry, built on insecurities and personal promises to overcome. It strikes at the core throughout, while often leaving the listener full of love and gratitude. That makes this one even more special.