Sleeping With Sirens – Feel
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: June 4 2013
Remember when MySpace was relevant? I was only about 14 when MySpace blew up, and for the most part, it’s how I found out about music. One such band that I discovered was Florida (now Michigan) post-hardcore outfit Sleeping With Sirens. In 2010, this band was completely unknown, so the legion of fans they have now didn’t exist, or didn’t know about them. To me, they were just an up and coming post-hardcore band, and their first record With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear was a very interesting record; it wasn’t very unique, but it was entertaining, to say the least. It was a standard post-hardcore release with some potential. I seem to be in the minority when I didn’t care for 2011’s grammatically odd Let’s Cheers To This. I didn’t care they weren’t as heavy anymore, but they seemed to just be pandering to the Risecore crowd. 2012’s acoustic EP If You Were a Movie, This Would Be Your Soundtrack was a nice surprise, as I’ve always enjoyed the band’s acoustic material over their “regular” stuff, mainly because vocalist Kellin Quinn’s voice is not suited for post-hardcore. While his voice may be interesting, it’s too high for that kind of music. That kind of instrumentation combined with his voice makes for an awkward listen, nonetheless. Their first record was not half bad, but at the same time, that’s the main gripe I had with it. As well as their acoustic EP, 2012 also brought upon a wave of new found fame with the band. They’re essentially the face of the “Risecore,” despite not really having breakdowns and such. They’re one of the less heavy bands, but at the same time, there are aspects of them that sound similar to their peers. Regardless, they jumpstarted on a huge dose of fame, so third record Feel provided them with a lot of expectations. Fans and critics alike were eagerly awaiting the record, but the band decided to tease people by releasing a single, and another one, and another one, and another one. All in all, the band released four songs from the record just in the span of a couple weeks, which is a bit too much, frankly. Most bands release a song or two in the span of a few months, not in a couple weeks. Eventually, Rise Records put the entire record on their YouTube channel for streaming, so I decided to check it out for myself. After listening to it, I can wholeheartedly say that I’m rather disappointed for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, what bugs me about this record is how the band released a song a day for a few days straight. Personally, I’d rather hear a song or two in the span of a few months, not days. It’s almost like the entire record is spoiled for someone who was excited for it. A few other things really bug me about this record, and one of the major things is vocalist Kellin Quinn. He’s not a bad vocalist, but other people may disagree. He’s got a nice singing voice, but he should not be playing in this genre of music, honestly. Their acoustic EP last year was a very solid release, because it showed the band at their best and their most vulnerable as well; they were more stripped down, and Quinn’s voice actually was shown off. The problem I have with their music now is that Quinn’s voice is too soft for the music. You can barely hear it against the instrumentation, and this has always been a problem, but it’s just absolutely grating, frankly. Going along with that, while I don’t mind his voice, it’s his lyrics that absolutely bother me. All of the lyrics on this record are rather clichéd, and drawn out. A few songs deal with “haters” and “not caring” (though they wrote a couple songs about it), being in love, lost loves, etc, etc. The lyrics are composed of nothing I haven’t heard before, honestly. At some points, they’re just downright cringing. Take the song “The Best There Ever Was” featuring Chris “Fronz” Fronzak. The overall song is one of the worst songs on the record, because it’s an obvious genericore song, but the lyrics are god awful. Here’s the best example: “People try to hate you when you make it to the top / Just put your middle fingers up, follow your dreams and never stop / We're the best there ever was and ever will you know it's true.” Geez. Then there’s the first single released “Low;” this the chorus of the song: “You make me feel low / Don’t make me feel low / If I can’t have you I’d be by myself / Cause you know I need you so.” Basically, most of the songs on this record have very simplistic lyrics, as well as choruses that just repeat the same lines over and over. It wouldn’t be too bad if Quinn’s vocals didn’t get so grating after awhile. I do want to say that he can sing, but his voice gets quite grating when he’s trying to be tough.
The overall instrumentation itself is also a bit of a problem. It’s not awful, but it’s just forgettable. There’re a couple of moments that are pretty interesting, like there’s a really cool southern rock guitar solo on eighth track “Congratulations,” featuring Memphis May Fire frontman Matty Mullins. Mullins is a wonderful vocalist, but he’s so underused in this song. He’s barely heard in the track, and doesn’t get enough time to truly shine. Speaking of which, there are way too many guest vocalists on this record. MGK, Matty Mullins, Shayley Bourget (ex-Of Mice and Men), and Fronz from Attila all appear at one point or another. Fall Out Boy’s new record Save Rock and Roll has the same number, and that’s another prime example of why more than one or two is too much, because two of the guest spots on that record didn’t work, as well as here, where only two of them are actually tolerable, those two being Mullins and Bourget. MGK’s verse on “Alone” is bland and uninspired, and Fronz’s screams on “The Best There Ever Was” are cringe-worthy. Most of the instrumentation is rather uninspired and just boring. There’s nothing unique, but it’s not even interesting. A few songs try to be “heavy” and those fall flat, because Quinn is not a good harsh vocalist. He never has been, and he shouldn’t try.
Of course there are some positives to this record, but there aren’t many. The “best” songs on the record are in the form of the last two songs, “Sorry” and “Satellites.” While both songs feature rather cliché lyrics, they’re at least heartfelt, most likely because the instrumentation is slowed down, so the listeners can actually hear Quinn’s voice. Most of the time, his voice is covered up by the instrumentation and auto-tune, so it’s nice to hear his voice in its natural state. To say the least, these songs may not be perfect, but they’re not bad, either. These two songs are the kind of tracks that they should be focusing on, but instead, they’re all over the place. That’s the biggest thing that bugs me. It’s not the lyrics, or boring instrumentation, it’s the fact the record seems so disjointed, and lacks any sense of direction. I’m all for different styles, and sounds on a record, but not when they seem out of place and the whole record doesn’t flow together. That’s the problem with this record, and it suffers miserably throughout. All in all, this record is a regression on Sleeping With Sirens’ part, rather than a progression, and it’s a shame. I remember when they were just blowing up on MySpace, and they were a rather unknown band, and while it’s great they’ve blown up as much as they have, it’s a shame, because they’re not quite representing post-hardcore in a good light. I’ve said this before, but Quinn and co. should just become an acoustic/indie band. If there were an award for biggest disappoint of the year, this would easily take it. Yes, this record may be “different,” but it doesn’t mean it’s good.
I agree mostly about the record being poorly done...but the comments about his voice make literally no sense, since 75 percent of singers in this genre sing in his range, some even high, like KC from Outline In Color ...Beau fro BTF sings nearly at Kellin's range (excluding when Kellin goes really high for accent, which doesn't happen often). Most of Kellin's melodies are in a range comparable to a lot of other singers in the genre. It's just the tambre of his voice that makes it seem incredibly high.