This Providence – Who Are You Now?
Record Label: Fueled by Ramen
Release Date: March 17, 2009
J.J. Abrams, eat your heart out.
Just like an episode of everyone’s favorite island mystery-drama, Who Are You Now?, the latest full-length from Seattle’s emo-rock darlings, seems to beg many more questions than it answers. It’s a well established fact that This Providence have a history of challenging pop norms with their flair for glistening hooks and undeniable swagger, but they seemed to have missed a step with 2008’s The Bright Lights EP. Given that the aforementioned EP contributed three tracks to Who Are You Now?, the first mystery quickly floated to the surface: what would this release bring to the table?
The answer is, not surprisingly, a mixed bag. Songs run the gamut from danceable and addictive (“Selfish”) to simple, straightforward rock (“Letdown”) to anemic and uncharacteristically drab (“This Is The Real Thing”). Although this isn’t entirely unexpected (no one’s perfect, right? Well, other than Brand New, of course…), what is naggingly persistent is the question of why The Bright Lights EP was rehashed in the first place. “Waste Myself” is a strong effort, but “My Beautiful Rescue (Renovated)” is still just as dull and plodding as ever and although “Sand In Your Shoes” fades to the background within the thirteen track deluge, it’s still pretty vacant.
Another pop quiz: where has that smug smile gone? This mindbender is one of the most alarming trends in the band’s recent history and it certainly can be applied to Who Are You Now?. Tempos drag, self-confidence seems to have lessened, and that cocksure attitude just isn’t present. They come close with the pep of “That Girl’s A Trick,” which is essentially “Card House Dreamer v2.0,” but it somehow doesn’t fit into the album’s big picture. We’re left to chew on the dancehall indie of “Squeaking Wheels And White Light” and it isn’t enough to fill us up.
The most stunning puzzle of all, however, is where some of these tunes have been hiding. There’s an obvious style change that, up until now, has been played off as something of a fall from grace, but in truth, with change comes at least a bit of beauty. For instance, “Chasing The Wind” is certainly one of the best songs the band has penned to date. With an inventive melody backed by a compelling juxtaposition of strings, acoustic guitar, and electric riffs, the song highlights vocalist Dan Young’s acrobatic range. The album closer, “Somebody To Talk To,” could be an Ace Enders b-side. There’s far more twang than we’ve heard from This Providence and its wistfully intimate lyrics somehow feel like the anthem of middle America. It’s a success, through and through. Also, as strange as it may be to say it, “Sure as Hell” is one of the best introductory songs in recent memory. Its dark reverb and pained confessions would easily fit the Deja Entendu vibe and its short, uncomplicated structure is just enough to whet the appetite.
At the end of the day, we don’t actually have to ask “who are you now.”The latest episode from This Providence has revealed the direction of the entire show. The band is clearly transitioning towards a grander, stadium-friendly version of their former selves, which will undoubtedly leave a lot of their fans asking some pretty significant questions. The change isn’t all bad and hopefully, as This Providence move forward and grow accustomed to their new digs, there will be fewer questions and more great music.
Good review. I love this album. With a couple of listens, it's totally grown on me now. It's been on repeat for a day straight. But I definitely think Chasing The Wind and Somebody To Talk To are my favorite songs on the album, no doubt. They never fail to disappoint me.
'Chasing the Wind' is a great song and definitely the most interesting on the album. After one whole listen through, I don't think it's (nearly) as good as their two last albums, but it's still very enjoyable and very, very infectious. It's just a little generic, with the exception of a few songs.
too bad santi was fantastic and actually a good listen.
both ratings on this is WAY too nice. only 2 or 3 songs i liked. id give it probably a 50%. to me, you put lipstick and dress up a pig but its still a pig. same applies here. i dont care how good production quality is (that deserves a 10 yes) but the songs are just lame. that "Edge" the self titled had is gone and now we can expect tours sponsered by MTV with this providence, all time low, and metro station. sweet!
and i have no problem with them "blowing up" so to speak, im not that fan, but i do have a problem when it sounds like theyre converting their sound to "blow up" and thats all i hear here. i guess we still got OWD and s/t.
Mark my words. These guys will be a huge in a year.
They will get much more success with a record like this. I believe there will be a lot of fans who liked "Our Worlds Divorce" and "Self Titled" that won't be really into this Album. But these guys will get a larger fan base and finally get the success they deserve.
This is the start of something grand. These guys deserve to be playing larger venues to larger crowds. I for one loved the "Bright Lights" EP. I guess I'm just a sucker for a good hook. Great job guys. Keep the good music coming and I'll keep buying.