The Sequence – In Lights EP
Release Date: January 13, 2009
Record Label: Unsigned
The loss of a lead singer can often be the death knell of a band. In cases where it isn’t, well, sometimes listeners wish it had been. The cards were certainly stacked against The Sequence when Matt Carmichael decided to leave the band. The group had just started gaining momentum on a few sites across the web, had a song played on MTV, and just started gaining that little spark that got people talking. Of course, Carmichael was a very solid vocalist in his own right, and his work on the band’s debut, Simplify, was a large part of its appeal. The ability of an unsigned band to fill such a vacancy always raises more problems than solutions, so it is quite a relief to see that with Travis Van Hoff, The Sequence are now just as good, if not better, than they have ever been.
Fundamentally, the foursome have all the right ingredients to do just what they set out to do – make extremely catchy pop-rock. They have the crunchy guitars, driving percussion, and soaring vocal melodies all needed to anchor a solid-gold pop gem. Need convincing? Just check out “All In” – it sounds like the type of song Autopilot Off might have made on a new album mixed in with a little bit of Jimmy Eat World. The result ends up being sonically huge and devilishly catchy, and would sound right at home on any mainstream media outlet. From there, the guys slow it down a bit and wax a little sappy for the next two tracks. “1982” is an earnest, sweeping track that effectively switches between candlelit verses and anthemic choruses without losing a step, and is practically begging for “poignant film moment” placement. “Till I Die” ups the emo ante considerably more with its string track and crisp acoustic guitar. It gets a little too thick perhaps for its own good, and might be a throwaway under different circumstances, but Van Hoff’s sensitivity is just too convincing to be dismissed.
To assess the final track, I have to be honest that I generally hate, hate, hate covers. And this recent trend of Band X (usually a screamo act) trying to be ironic by covering “Umbrella” or some garbage is particularly disturbing. So when I saw that The Sequence had covered “Disturbia” for their coda, I did my best not to gag or descend into dry heaves. Now, that said, The Sequence’s cover is an unequivocal winner. It sounds less like self-parody and more like an honest homage to what is an undeniable pop smash, and that sort of attitude appears to help the band succeed here. Bursts of guitar guitar crunch and perfectly arranged vocals make this rendition better than the original, and will likely prove to be superior to The Cab’s (settle down, FBR disciples).
In Lights is another piece of evidence to suggest that The Sequence is a band that doesn’t just deserve to be signed, they deserve to be noticed. This release would do well to eschew one of the slower tunes for another high-octane rock number, but regardless, nothing here is “bad” or unlistenable. The Sequence deserve to get to the next level in our scene, and In Lights is certainly a suitable vessel to make that happen.
I've loved this band for awhile. Simplify is one of my favorite pop-rock albums.
Not convinced by this EP though. "All In" is fantastic; an amazing song. "Til I Die" and "1982" seem a bit too generic to me. "Disturbia" I wish they had made a bit more their own, however they did do a good job with it and I'm sure many people will thoroughly enjoy it.
Van Hoff is easily a better singer than Carmichael, though I feel the band may have lost some of its originality that made me love Simplify.
I won't make a final verdict until I have the EP in hand, because all of my thoughts are based on what I heard from their MySpace.