This Day & Age - The Bell And The Hammer
Release Date: August 22, 2006
Record Label: 111 Records
This isn't high school or a homecoming. Although, there should be a point of celebration on This Day & Age maturing further from their 111 Records' debut, Always Leave the Ground. Their sophomore follow-up, The Bell and The Hammer shows that the band have graduated from simplistic and safe modes of composition. Removing the ebb and strictly focusing on the flow, This Day & Age cautiously craft sleek ballads easy on the ears of any listener.
Thankfully, This Day & Age—Jeff Martin (vocals/guitar), Mike Carroll (guitar), Joe Secchiaroli (bass), Kelly (keyboard) and Steve Padin (drums)—have adjusted from their rather underclassman release of Always Leave the Ground to a sparkling and evermore mature album. The Bell And the Hammer. This record proves that a band can expand whilst staying within the bounds of their comfort. The cinematic elements are bent between the feathered use of instruments and atmospheric backgrounds, therein creating a more settling genre in their indie-pop scene.
Beginning the album with "More Of A Climb, Less Of A Walk" not only displays their immediate change in ambient sound but their focus on instruments and longer song structures. It sets the pace for the rest of the album. Kudos. Most impressive is their ability to build up and breakdown (“Second Star To The Right”), as deviant it may be from their soothing indie-pop tendencies, this technique helps discriminate between songs and keeping the record in tact.
The title track does just what it suggests—chimes melodiously through vocals and drives through guitar and keyboard ambiance. Martin's vocals are most bursting on this track than any other song and eventually see the potential of what the next album could be. Even though, Martin's vocals stay at a relatively low pitch the entire album, this eclipse is a desirable change. "Eustace" is an introspective ballad that looks in and outside of the self "Knock me down, please knock me down, I'm better off when I'm on the ground...I hear you more if I just slow down." Ultimately, this track is this reviewer's favorite on The Bell And The Hammer; a song which may allude to St. Eustace (a seventh-century Catholic missionary in Europe). Check out "Always Straight Ahead" and "Of Course We've All Seen The Sun" for focused keys and steady, but plush atmospheres.
The upstate New York group has certainly shown they are comfortable with direction and adaptation of the scene. And whether they want to be or not, they are in the scene. My predictions is that this album will most definitely make This Day & Age an acceptable replacement to the utter shit that is recycled through contesting labels. In time, it will not last, its lacks hooks and is, in the end, an easily forgettable album. Despite that, The Bell And The Hammer, will yield listeners to a more sensible soft-rock sound. In the end, this album will shows strength in beauty but weakness in time.
Nice review, a bit disappointing it didn't get a higher score though...
i love the album, don't get me wrong, it got a pretty high score for a fairly unknown band in my opinion. i just dont think it will last. but a greatalbum to have on in the background.goodto fall asleep to, or read or study to.
excellent review Gabe, but i've got to disagree with what you said about forgetability. atleast so far, it seems to me like this album is going to be playing over and over for a long time. i know i've been able to listen to the purevolume tracks on a daily basis. otherwise, i only thought the scores were a little low based on the amount of negative things you said about them. it seems like you gave them a mediocre score, but hardly said anything negative about the album. otherwise, as i said, excellent review, as always.
Well, I am definitely picking this up today. I probably was going to regardless of what you all said, but Jason and Gabe's recs on it make me even that much more excited. Here's hoping Best Buy or somewhere will have it!