Kill the Alarm - Fire Away
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: December 2, 2008
It came as something of a surprise when Kill the Alarm's Fire Away arrived in my mailbox. For some reason, I had no recollection of requesting it, and from a quick glance at the album art, it didn't look like something I'd be interested in. I popped it in anyway and what I heard coming from the speakers made for a time warp of sorts, as the band's music bears many similarities to what you would have heard on alternative rock radio in the middle-to-late 1990's. Call it nostalgia if you will (I don't mind because that's exactly what it is), but I'll probably always have a soft spot for music from that era. If you don't, the already limited appeal of this record is going to be lost on you.
On the whole, it's a very mainstream sounding affair, but it does weave in and out of various styles, though not wandering too far from its pop-rock backbone. There's just a touch of driving pop-punk in "Sit Up", along the lines of The Spill Canvas, while the title track recalls Our Lady Peace's ability to fuse elements of pop-punk and post-grunge into catchy songs. The latter possesses the most immediate hook on the album, but probably ventures too much into the realm of "cock rock" for the comfort of many. Admittedly, it would be unfair to label Kill the Alarm as such, as vocalist Garen Gueyikian's largely uplifting lyrical focus runs through most of the album and rings especially true on the anthemic ballads "Uncovered" and "No More Excuses".
The shining star on this nine-track collection is definitely the jangle-pop jam, "Never Come Around," which could have resulted from a collaboration between The Format, circa Dog Problems, and Better Than Ezra. It's really quite good and it's probably the only song on the album I don't feel like I've already heard before in one form or another. "Call on Me" sounds like a Daughtry or 3 Doors Down hit, while "Shout It Out Loud" sounds like Live, post-2000. The album ends on a really flat note with the uptempo, but tuneless, pop-punk of "Immune" and the unnecessarily drawn-out "Collide."
Listening to this album definitely makes for a confounding experience as it's unclear what Kill the Alarm are actually trying to be. The varied take on 90's alt-rock isn't offering anything new and isn't anything that hasn't been done better already. Aside from the one real standout track, all this album has are a few moments that might bring bemused smiles of reminiscence to the faces of myself and fellow members of the Class of '99.