We the Living - Heights of the Heavens
Record Label: Authentik Artists
Release Date: May 2007
Upon listening to the debut offering Heights of the Heavens from California based outfit We the Living, I found myself asking the question: 'Since when did music get so safe, plain, and inoffensive?' With so many bands getting their music 'out there' nowadays, it is becoming harder and harder to stand out from the crowd. You need to have something about your songs which makes them heard above all the others; you need to be worthy of a listener’s time. A daunting task indeed, but achievable. We the Living step up to the plate with an album that is actually a re-release, because I suspect that not enough people did hear these songs the first time round. After the first few songs though, it becomes clear that perhaps instead of attempting to re-hash something lacking their own sensibility, We the Living should have gone back to the drawing board and created something with a bit more punch.
On their myspace page, We the Living list Coldplay, The Fray, Snow Patrol, and David Gray in their "sounds like" section. On the face of it I suppose We the Living are no different to these bands. All the right elements are there; the light piano dustings, the twinkling guitars, and the plodding mid-tempo drums. However, the one thing We the Living lack when compared to these other bands is, quite simply, good songs. Over the course of their debut, they do not really create anything particularly memorable or involving. In fact, much of it sounds the same all the way through. It is a real shame, because there are little glimmers of something really good just bubbling under the surface, but they never manage to get their little AOR ship off the rocks. I was nine songs into the album before I found myself thinking: 'Hey, this one’s OK' - see: "Barometers." But who wants to listen to OK music? There is an inherent mediocrity to their sound, and I think the problem lies in the fact that they attempt to sound exactly like the bands that influence them rather than creating their own identity. This, coupled with the aforementioned lack of songs, is a deadly combination. Their Fray-lite plodding made me want to do nothing else except listen to The Fray, because at least they have better songs. Sad, but true. There is a very fine line to be trodden with this style of music, and it exists between over-sentimentality and genuine emotion. Unfortunately, We the Living have their feet just on the wrong side of it. They desperately want to get on the radio, and you can tell.
All things considered though, I could see this album having a place in your collection if you wanted to listen to something totally mellow and inoffensive. You might give it to your mum (or mom, whichever you prefer) when she gets bored of her Shania Twain albums. Hell, you might even use it to trick some girl into thinking you'd got hold of the new Fray album early, and then she would be disappointed, and then you'd break up. However, when you have, one thing you won't be doing, I assure you, is listening to this over and over again. In short, it's not bad, but it isn't good either; it's a bit like getting your hair cut into a Mohawk and then wearing a cardigan.
You might give it to your mum (or mom, whichever you prefer) when she gets bored of her Shania Twain albums. Hell, you might even use it to trick some girl into thinking you'd got hold of the new Fray album early, and then she would be disappointed, and then you'd break up.