The Human Flight Committee - Oh, When the Animals Unionize
Record Label: Blue Duck Records
Release Date: March 11, 2008
The first time I was introduced to the human flight committee was a few years ago. They were a screamo band that my friends used to talk about and see sometimes back in the early 2000's because they were from our native New Hampshire. I mostly forgot about them until one night in Lowell, MA when I saw them play with my friend's band. Their performance was fun, flawless, and one of the most energetic performances I had seen in a long while. For that reason, I went to see them again shortly after the release of their debut record for Blue Duck Records. I picked the album at the show and I can't say it disappoints.
The album starts out with an intro that is reminiscent of something Showbread would do. The (borderline) creepy keyboards and background noise of animal sounds and people talking creates a menacing atmosphere that leads to the punch in the face that is "She's A Car Destroyer." This song starts and ends with the same riff (like many of the songs on the record ) and has more energy than a 5 year old with a pixie stick. The At the Drive-In-type screaming/yelling vocals are found throughout the album where needed and this song is no exception. This song, which is used as the first single, is a solid opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album.
The album moves on with more of a melodic second track, "You'll Get This When You Are Older." The song is solid musically, but the lyrics are not up to par, and at some points can get pretty corny ("You're like a streaming river in this tale they tell/If only you were a bridge as well/You could get over yourself"). Luckily the album is redeemed by the next track, "Tint and Quarantine." This heavy opener finds The Human Flight Committee at their hardest with those vocals once again taking a page from the At the Drive-In handbook. The song is by far the hardest on the record, with a epic bridge that finds Aaron Shelton yelling about how "We are the drama kings and queens/We are the reasons for these scenes/We are the beginning to the end/We are the last ones out again." Though this song is energetic and heavy, it also follows the habit this band has for ending the songs on the same riff that opened it, which in the case of "Tint," probably is not a bad thing.
After a couple more dance-y tracks in "Serious Emotional Problems, Beyond Pacifism" and "The Last Song Anyone Is Going To Hear," the rest of the record starts to go down hill after the interlude,"Oh, The Middle." The highlight of the second half comes in the form of an interesting guest appearance from Steven Christian from popular alt-rock/emo/pop band Anberlin. His appearance on the record does not really help or hinder "Russian? We're Barely Moving!." The vocals have a vocoder effect on them for the verses, but not on the slightly awkward, forced chorus. This song also features the only key change in the album, which does not really seem needed. From there the record takes a little bit of a nose dive. The ending song "Wolves In Cheap Clothing" sounds like elevator music with guitars plus more vocoder on the vocals.
The Human Flight Committee are very good at what they do, and their live show is nothing to wag your finger at, either. But sometimes, you can't win every battle. This record is dance-y when it has to be, heavy when it calls for it, and just an overall good time. It may not the best record in the world, but I would certainly say you could do much worse.