The Graduate - Only Every Time
Record Label: Razor & Tie
Release Date: August 31st
The music industry is far from perfect. Many music lovers never get the chance to see behind the scenes, but itís not hard to believe that record labels almost always play a part in the separation of the best bands that never were (Iím looking at you, Juliana Theory). A step up from complete disbanding is all the close calls. Happening in much larger quantity, labels often collapse internally or throw bands under the bus thanks to false pretenses. Like I mentioned, this happens (normally) to top-tier bands, and The Graduate is the perfect example. Icon MES Records folded soon after the release of The Graduateís debut album, Anhedonia, leaving these five extremely talented musicians unable to satiate their desires they satisfy with their music.
Thankfully, they did their best to stay on the straight and narrow, but at times it scared the hell out of their fans. They wrote some songs. OK, good. They stopped giving updates, and became inactive to the naked eye. Alright, not great. They wrote some more songs. There we go, I like it. Two of their members ventured into carpentry. Hmm, alright, thatís probably not good. After all of this back and forth, though, a label finally pulled its head out of its ass, and Razor & Tie caught these guys on the up & up; boy, was it worth the wait. Only Every Time is the straight up rock & roll album that 2010 needed. Oh, but itís so much more than that.
Starting off quick and ruthless, "Donít Die Digging" picks up exactly where their last album left off. Sure, they still might not be able to find pleasure in pleasurable things, but theyíve been through a hell of a lot as of late, and goddamn it, theyíre trying. Now, this album is right on pace with Anhedonia not only lyrically, but especially with the instrumentation. Nearly flawless production from Brian McTiernan once again complements the band who, this time around, was not afraid to explore the endless possibilities the guitar, bass, and drum set really have. The guitar riffs normally end up somewhat simplistic, but even when they do, they still sound very, very cool.
"Stuck (Inside My Head)" is the first of many ballads, and it was around the time this song got over that I noticed something. "One of these days/Iíll learn to make it on my own." Corey Warningís towering vocals and the powerful musicianship of the four other members are a red herring. It all sounds so good, that you donít bother to immediately look at the lyrics; instead, they want you to see the brave, unfaltering band theyíre thriving to be. After repeated listens, though, cutting through the ambient guitar effects and Warningís soothing vibrato, you see the band as they truly are: broken and recovering. Wouldnít you be? Nearly two years went by with no direction. It starts to make me think even more. Maybe thereís a connection between this and Anhedonia. Maybe putting their humanistic and anhedonic traits to music and lyrics is the one way they find pleasure. Ironic. They differentiate themselves from most bands by that constant lyrical reminder that theyíre no different than you and I.
Everybody will hopefully hit this point after 5, maybe 6 listens. From there on out, youíre doing more than listening to a CD; youíre listening to the soundtrack to not only this bandís life, but probably also a certain point in your life. The first five tracks describe a serious trouble that you just canít get over. Itís killing you, eating you up inside; then "Pull Me In" starts. "I canít see the path ahead/but either way Iím fine. Iím alive. Iím home." Youíre going to be all right. Donít beat yourself up. Pick up the pieces and move on. These songs are not only telling a story, theyíre telling your story. Everybodyís gone through this situation, and itís only going to get worse before it gets better.
If "Pull Me In" is you deciding you have to move on, "Choke" is you trying new things to put the bad behind you and start a new chapter in your life. "Come on in, man/The waterís getting cold. See if you sink or swim or float." So you jump in. You sink. You relapse. You "Choke." It had to happen. You were doing too well.
So youíve failed twice now. Where do you go from here? "Halfway There" takes you through your second attempt to become resilient. It starts to seem youíre lonely even around your family and closest friends. You canít open up, you constantly feel distant. Then comes "Permanent Tourists." This is the moment when you realize that you cannot throw everything and everyone away simply because youíve fallen on hard times. So you begin to rebuild, yet again.
Youíre getting there, youíre finally almost past this, you can smell it. "All At Once" is you rekindling your relationships with all the ones you love, but being skeptical that theyíre so willing to accept you for who you are and for everything that youíve been through. Finally, "End Of The World Delight" is you realizing itís not too late to reach for those dreams you once had to put on hold.
Wow. What a 41 minutes and 22 seconds that was. Youíve been through a lot, and so has The Graduate. Thatís what "For The Missing" is for. "Nothing decent is ever planned," warning howls in the closing seconds of the album. If youíre going through hell, keep going. You never know when youíre going to stumble upon something that changes your life for the better. Right now, for me, and hopefully soon, all of you, Only Every Time is that something.