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| Yellow Second's guitarist/vocalist was originally a member of the much-loved ska band Five Iron Frenzy, whose members have since formed many truly great post-FIF projects. Knowing that, you are in no way prepared for Yellow Second's album Altitude. A pleasant twelve-track weave of poppy harmonics and a pleasant atmosphere, this record isn't something to pull you into either emotional direction of rapture or despondancy, but what you're given is something all of us often look for--a simply good listen.
The opening track is refreshingly heartfelt and original, though it proves to be slightly offset from the rest of the album. "Chance of Sunbreaks" just borders on catchy, and while it doesn't leap out at you, it's nothing short of well-composed. Each song has a solid blend of earlier indie influences and modern alternative rock styles. A lot of the material, while professionally pieced together, isn't particularly breakthrough or innovative. However, some tracks encompass standout originality, reflected in pieces like "Silhouette" and "Plume."
The band has signed to purely Christian record company Floodgate, a label that sometimes serves as an incubator for religious bands that will later be signed to slightly more secular labels like Tooth and Nail (see: Number One Gun). This combined with Five Iron Frenzy's religious notoriety suggests a prominent faith-filled track listing, but while I can't effectively scrutinize the inspiration and lyrical content of the songs, there is nothing violently evangelical about the songs on this album, making it a very well-rounded piece of work for anyone who's a fan of the style.
Altitude's guitarwork is upbeat and aggressively poppy. The basslines shouldn't be left unnoticed, which don't break free from the basic structure of the guitar and drums, but are very efficient in creating an extended environment, floating melodically beneath tracks like "Mulberry." Acoustic guitar additions like in "Some Other Way" allow the band to play with additional style techniques, experimenting with a slower, more laid-back... almost Country feel.
The vocals of Scott Werr are neither revolutionary nor fantastic, but they're rarely unenjoyable and you don't feel too upset with the fact that he rarely attempts to break from his vocal range. The drums are correctly placed in each track without drawing much attention, and seem to have a good idea of when to give the spotlight to the guitarwork layered on top. The guitar does occasionally go off in interesting directions, with odd solos like in "Seed," but we're eventually returned to Yellow Second's comfortable pattern.
Yellow Second keeps pushing through, song after song, with the same well-developed sense of pop stylings and harmonies. Standout tracks remain closer to the end, with energetic orchestrations like "I Can Awake," which is a brilliantly pleasant four and a half minutes of music. The closing track, "Imaginary Friend," has an exciting introduction and then quickly falls back to the boardline-innovative boarderline-catchy styles of the rest of the record.
With a March 8th release date, nothing is stopping you from going out and buying Altitude. It's rare that a band of this context gets the amount of exposure Yellow Second has gotten, so show no concern for the members' histories or the band's Christian connections and just buy it for a great musical ride.
<< 2) Chance of Sunbreaks >>
3) Forget What You've Heard
7) Some Other Way
9) Fall Out Of Line
10) Hello to Never
11) I Can Awake
12) Imaginary Friend