Dead Reynolds - 'Breathe With Strangers' Album Review
1. I Tried
2. The Only One
4. Not My Place
7. Bring It Down
10. Up All Night
11. By Your Side
12. Bright Lights
This is the debut album from Dead Reynolds, having already released two EP’s and created a bit of a buzz on Kerrang Radio lets see if they live up to the hype. Having listened to the album once before sitting down to review it. My partner Rachel had some thoughts on it so I thought it might be interesting to see if we’re on the same page with this album.
Aleutia – A solid start to the album with some catchy hooks at times I hear echoes of the late Stuart Adamson in some of the guitar lines.
Rachel - Atmospheric chorus effect vocal intro before breaking in to fast paced modern sounding rock. A solid opener.
The Only One
Aleutia – There are some good use of dynamics in this song some of the vocals remind me of 30STM (when they used to be a decent Rock band). Dead Reynolds have the potential to tap into the void left by 30STM going all dance and claim their fans who are looking for something more rocking.
Rachel - Heavy riff before going into very 30STM stripped back verse. Catchy chorus before same riff and repeat. A little formulaic.
Aleutia – Sung with some serious passion by the vocalist. Really catchy guitar lines on this and the whole band are really tight.
Rachel - Fiercely passionate song, the best so far due to the amount of emotion in the vocals and some fantastic sounding guitars with good use of dynamics to capture them.
Not My Place
Aleutia – Really strong guitar melodies and again great use dynamics as the song pounds along solidly.
Rachel - Good use of keyboards in intro add to the Modern Rock vibe leading to stripped back verse that builds into catchy chorus. Quiet breakdown adds to atmosphere of chorus when it kicks in. They definitely know how to write short, radio friendly Rock.
Aleutia – Another song driven by a strong rhythm track makes great use of the quiet verse / explosive chorus that Dead Reynolds are already appearing very good at.
Rachel - Strong bassline particularly prominent due to stripped back sound of verse that builds into more explosive chorus. Starting to feel at this point there is a formula being used for these songs. Not an album of surprises so far.
Aleutia – Strong explosive guitars and at times I almost expect the vocals to be delivered in a more aggressive style but credit to Dead Reynolds for not doing the obvious and having very clean vocals. At the end of this song it fades away very quickly with some piano it would have been interesting to hear them go on with this a little more as it added something to the song instead of sort of hitting the 3 minute mark and cutting it off like a radio edit.
Rachel - Gang vocal intro with piano before building into explosive verse. The piano was different, but this is definitely Dead Reynolds’ style of song dynamic, and they quickly get back into the same fast pacing in another short number which unfortunately blends into the others.
Bring It Down
Aleutia – The lead single for the album, It’s funny as everyone has a different opinion on what should be a single. Personally I don’t think this is the strongest track on this album (but what the hell do I know). With lots of Woah Oh’s its pretty clear why it’s been chosen as the single as it’s clearly written to be a single.
Rachel - A catchy, made for radio guitar sound. Catchiest of a catchy bunch so far. Will disagree with Aleutia and say it’s a very safe choice for lead single as it ticks all the right boxes. I’m not sure however that ticking boxes is necessarily the best way for Dead Reynolds to write songs. Had they just kept to their formula for the singles and used the rest, or most of their album to explore other avenues musically then I think I’d be far less critical. It’s definitely a song that you ask who was that? In a good way too. It’s just that there’s nothing new on the album so far. They’re very good musicians and good at what they do, but there’s very little variation and it’s all sticking to the same formulaic style of verses and choruses in same tempos that doesn’t surprise.
Aleutia - Another solid track that uses the ease off on the verse and explode in the chorus formular really well, this contains a couple of nice stripped back sections towards the end of the song that does make it stand out from the other songs better.
Rachel - More of the same, fast paced, stripped back verses that builds into more explosive chorus. Individually I think I’d have liked most of these tracks, just not sure I’m getting it as an album as they could be played in random order, and I’d be none the wiser.
Aleutia – My only real issue with this album by this point is all of the songs are just so damn short, 'Pieces' is the albums longest song at 3.52 and it is starting to sound a bit samey to me as so far as it’s all being delivered with the same tempo and intensity.
Rachel - Again, a heavy guitar intro breaks into atmospheric, stripped back verse. Nothing’s really standing out at this point, which is a shame, as musically, there’s not much to dislike, other than the sameness of the delivery. It’s almost as if it’s been written as plug and play for playlists rather than as an album.
Up All Night
Aleutia – Finally just as I was saying this album was becoming one breathless run through of songs that came and went way too quick, we get a change of pace. 'Up All Night' is a heavily acoustic driven song that changes things up just enough to make it stand out – Again my only issue is the songs over too damn quick.
Rachel – A very surprising track, different beat, acoustic guitar. Is this the same band? It’s refreshing as it shows another side of the band we hadn’t seen before now. I like the addition of distorted electric guitars midway through which is more in going with what we had before. It just cuts off too short when I feel this song, more than others, had the headroom to explore the fuller sound before maybe going back to the acoustic origins for an outro. Ultimately, despite loving the different sound and vibe, they left me feeling short-changed by their rush to end the song so swiftly.
By Your Side
Aleutia – Another song that stands well enough on its own as it uses all of the dynamics that Dead Reynolds have previously used but in the context of the whole album it sounds like it could be filler and adds nothing new.
Rachel - The formulaic feel of the songs before 'Up All Night' is back. There’s nothing bad about the song, I just feel as an album they lack balance in terms of the pacing of their songs, all short songs delivered at speed bar one, feels rushed and that’s a shame as I feel as a band, they are already capable of so much more.
Aleutia – The album closer, it starts as a strong ending song that showcases the best of everything Dead Reynolds have delivered to this point. It’s got it all, stripped back synthy verses, solid guitar lines, catchy vocals but just as I was expecting the song to take off again we are hit with a song that’s stops abruptly. – These 3 minute songs are starting to become really frustrating.
Rachel - I can see why they’ve chosen this as the closer, it’s probably a good shout for a single, in an album where there are very few differences, but this is a strong track even if it is in the same vein as what has preceded it. Fast paced, heavy guitars and quieter moments make for great dynamics but once again the track ends when it could have tried to do much more and quite abruptly which really didn’t sit right with me as a closer.
Aleutia – It’s a solid debut album and I’d really suggest someone sends a copy of this to one Jared Leto to remind him how to write a Rock album and not the crap 30 Seconds have been turning out. As I said it’s a solid debut full of catchy made for radio songs and if that’s what Dead Reynolds are aiming for then they’ve hit their mark exceptionally well. For me I found the album frustrating, yeah, it’s catchy as hell and fast paced but I often found myself annoyed that the songs were all done within 3 or 3 ½ minutes. 'Breathe With Strangers' would have benefited by dropping one or two songs and taking another one or 2 songs over the 5-minute mark as it would make the album feel like a body of work rather than a collection of songs written for a Spotify playlist (which is what this does). I hope this is something Dead Reynolds consider going forward onto album number 2. They have a lot of potential, but this self-radio editing style of writing is potentially placing constraints on their music that may prevent them from taking their songs to the next level.
Rachel - It’s an album where you could easily insert the vast majority of the songs into any random Rock playlist, and they’d sit fine, but as a whole body of work it’s frustrating as it becomes hard to tell the differences between individual tracks except for 'Up All Night'. Had they explored more variations that they are clearly capable of, I feel it would have sat together far better as an album. Like Aleutia, I feel some longer tracks with different pacing would have broken up the non-stop assault of their fast-paced tracks which in isolation work well, just not for over 90% of the album. I just felt a little rushed by it as a listener when I actually like a lot of what they did and think they are clearly a band with a bright future.
Facebook - www.facebook.com/DeadReynolds
Review - Aleutia Shannon & Rachel Moore