A Vacant Affair - Reasons to Leave
Record Label: Wake Me Up Music
Release Date: March 31, 2009
According to the website for Singapore’s A Vacant Affair, they began writing Reasons to Leave two years before it was released, and after a few listens through, it seems that even that length of time wasn’t quite enough. While there are brief glimmers of promise interspersed throughout the album’s 45+ minutes’ running time, the whole thing ends up feeling bloated and exhausting before you’ve even made it half way.
Opener “Fiasco” is a good indication of the course the rest of the record will take. It features grating screams combined with disjointed rhythms and guitar lines and fails to make much of an impression. Singer Matt Lim has a fairly nondescript voice and doesn’t seem to make good use of what talent he does have; the melodies fall within a narrow range for the most part and follow similar patterns throughout Reasons. That fact and the apparent inability to trim the musical fat off these songs makes for a sluggish, uniform listening experience in which it is hard to distinguish between tracks. Songs like “108 We Are Losing You” drag on and on without any real sense of purpose, and even the shorter counterparts seem to last far longer than they should. That isn’t to say there are not great sections and moments to be found, there is simply too much filler on the album to make them worth finding.
The lone standout track on Reasons to Leave is “Mirrors,” a midtempo alternative rock piece that sounds almost Foo Fighters-inspired at times (odd, considering the fact that you can hear the exact opening riff of the Foo Fighter’s “My Hero” 3:04 into “Fiasco”). Its shifting verse-chorus rhythms are dynamic and interesting, and the build up in the bridge is extremely satisfying. Unfortunately the song suffers the same way its predecessors do, as the band can’t seem to find a way to end it, throwing a seemingly random assortment of riffs and sections together before finally coming to a close.
Most listeners will likely be struck how dated Reasons to Leave sounds. While this album was only released less than a year ago, it will instantly remind many of their old Glassjaw and Underoath albums, both influences the band openly claims on their website. It is ultimately an unrewarding experience, and one you probably won’t choose to undertake multiple times. A Vacant Affair has some potential and would do well to follow the path set forth in “Mirrors” or high-energy numbers like “The Departure Part 1” or “We Are Not the Same” and ditch the incessant unremarkable heaviness that dominates the rest of the album. More attention to delivering their music in a concise fashion and to the melodic aspects they do very well could make for a worthwhile sophomore attempt.