WE NEVER LEARNED TO LIVE – THE SLEEPWALK TRANSMISSIONS ALBUM REVIEW by Joe Grant
Music has many forms. Some bands trace a path through these different forms, and some bands have simply found and solidified their preferred form. They revel in it, perfect it, and create a sound you come to know… and hopefully appreciate. Love it or hate it, you know what will be delivered, in essence, when you pick up their next album. Bands like The Foo Fighters or The Melvins have shown that a formula works, and can keep working as long as the band keeps on playing.
Bands in the post-hardcore scene tend to feature signature scream vocals, attention-grabbing tempo changes, aggressive multi-layered chord driven guitar … and usually provide listeners with “better than your average pop song” melodies and song composition. We Never Learned to Live is no exception, and their 2nd album The Sleepwalk Transmissions, a follow up to 2015’s Silently, I Threw Them Skyward, is a noteworthy addition to the modern post-hardcore genre.
The album starts with a bang, figuratively speaking. A cavernous drum and guitar prelude more akin to a Godspeed song builds and then ends abruptly, launching into lead singer Sean Mahon’s full-blast vocals. Non-linear chord progressions push the song forward, while the band as a whole create melodic ambiance, complementing the drawn-out lyrics beautifully.
Android Anaesthetist follows, and it immediately conjures thoughts of Thursday from the late 90’s. Angst and talent. Emotion that bubbles throughout the music … making us feel, rather than telling us to feel. Human Antennae offers creative drum beats, with interesting off-tempo accents and haunting high-hats throughout the breakdown. The songs that follow provide more of the same energy, bringing to mind the urgency and intensity of Alexis on Fire at times. But when things needed a change, Retreat Syndrome dropped a beautiful mid-song interlude that went on just long enough to savour, before the band exploded back into form.
From the Sixth Floor made my ears perk up … thinking the album was over already and I was hearing a soulful outro, until it turned into another beautiful prelude for the album-defining Owari. Sorrowful yet aggressive, it drives and builds, with perfect chord changes and tasteful drum fills.
All in all, The Sleepwalk Transmissions provides exactly what it advertises. No nonsense, well-produced, lean, post-hardcore rock … with 11 tracks and an acceptable 45-minute run-time. If you are a post-hardcore fan and have not checked them out, they may offer you a trip down memory lane. Listening earlier and screaming along, I felt like I was back on the old #10 city bus heading home from College … not sitting here in my 30 something home office writing about music with ‘angst’.
2. Android Anaesthetist
3. Human Antenna
4. The Clocks
5. Luma / Non Luma
6. Wounds Like Wires
7. Retreat Syndrome
8. From The Sixth Floor
11. Radio Silence
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