Tell Tale Heart - The Cost of Living Record Label: None
Release Date: June 10, 2008
It's a rare occurrence these days to find an album that can truly be defined as "emo." Although a label that is often thrown around with reckless abandon and misused (to my frustration), sometimes it's the only way to describe a band or album. Such is the case with The Cost of Living from Tell Tale Heart.
Beginning the album is one of more powerful tracks, "Polka Dots," showing off both the powerful vocal work and the intricate guitar work of Joel Dodson. The track is powerful and full, with a side-helping of catchy-ness thrown into the mix. "Pity Party" sets up the sound that is more prevalent on most of the record, tight drums with sparse guitars and a steady bass that slowly builds in a powerful crescendo. "Shared Heart" has a more focused feel that is just different enough from the rest of the album to be pleasing. "Lost in Translation" is a moody and brooding number, while "Harmony Will Happen" packs some pretty non-stop punch, even when the guitars aren't going. Tight musicianship and excellent vocals are this album's strongest points, and they are shown off as much as possible.
Lyrically, no song ever crosses over to cheese-infested territory too much, the key phrase there being "too much." These few lyrical short-comings are all-but negated by other passionate and heart-felt lines. "Harmony Will Happen" even appears to take on religious subjects, though in a tasteful and subtle manner. While the lyrical content could use some work, it's by no means bad.
While the album covers a plethora of sounds and recalls innovators of the past (Minus the Bear, Appleseed Cast, The Early November), there are times that I just had to scratch my head. The familiarity I just mentioned is very pleasant, but at times it gets tiring, as I find myself always trying to figure out, "Where have I heard this before?" There are some moments on the album where the reverb on guitar and vocals gets so thick that I'm convinced Tom DeLonge had some hand in the production. Sometimes, the songs just get boring, and there's no nicer way to say it.
Faults aside, though, the album leaves room for huge potential. In a music scene where it seems like the past is where it's at, The Cost of Living, and Tell Tale Heart themselves, seem like they should fit right in.