Standstill - Unsolved
Record Label: Driftwood Records
Release Date: June 29, 2012
"Catching Up" is one of those songs. You know, the kind where each strum of the guitar or bass, each drum beat, and each lyric reflects a piece of emotion you've faced yourself. It's a song that shows first and foremost what the band do well, conveying that emotion through a heavy-hitting, start-and stop guitar part that echoes in your head upon first listen. Secondly, it shows that their emotion may overshadow their talent at moments. Don't let this hinder Unsolved for you, as Standstill sets the tone for a somewhat dark, lyrical piece that shows more promise than most independent releases we often come across.
"Newburgh Still Loves You" picks up a quicker pace, showcasing Standstill's strongest points- strong musicianship reminiscent of emo acts from the early 2000's, and sharp lyricism that often shows itself in the form of Max Bemis-esque quips that drives Unsolved to be the album that it wants to be. "Cristae" is a catchy affair, looking inward and wrapping itself around the question, "Does it come off as pretentious/ that I claim to be an existentialist?" and ending with a soft-yet-strong bridge. The only thing weighing down this song is the unnecessary screaming we find it closing with. Obvious single choice "Belle" will please those who have missed You, Me, & Everyone We Know. While the production may lack throughout the album, Standstill carries through with the best hook on Unsolved and the same lyricism that brings the record full-circle.
Thus lies the one large flaw in Unsolved; for every twisted line, strained vocal, and hook with just the right amount of punch, there lies another unwise production choice or musical layering out of left-field. With some stronger mixing next time around, Standstill could easily be onto something huge with their next release- which brings us to the highest point on the album, "Cosmonaut". Less aggression pays off as simple lines like "I named every star after you" echo across a beautifully distorted lead guitar. And just like that, I've found myself a new favorite cosmonaut-song.
"Vices" picks right back up where "Belle" left off, still holding a strong point for the album. The sinister, quiet/loud approach fits Standstill well as they make no attempts to beat around the bush, choosing words to tell the kind of self-destructive anecdotes we've grown accustomed to throughout the genre. "Garden Level Apartment" is again a testament to the band's talent as a group of young musicians, all between the ages of 18 and 20, but the vocal melody begins to blur into the rest of the standouts that can be found on Unsolved. "Six Figures Getting Sick" is an incredible stride in songwriting on the record, slowing things down just enough to catch a breath before busting into a hard display of loneliness and therapy through song.
Closing track "Reprise" is a mid-tempo offering that brings together and concludes everything we've experienced in Standstill's Unsolved up until this point; a glimpse of talent beginning to grow, strong songwriting that begins to take edge on other underground punk acts we've heard from this past year, and most importantly, unbridled emotion. As long as Standstill continues to put this behind anything they create, we could have quite the success story on our hands in releases to come.