Against the Current – Past Lives – 28/10/18
New Yorkers Against the Current’s debut album In Our Bones has been described by many as “pop-rock perfection”. Past Lives, the trio’s second full-length album has seen them step away from their pop rock roots and take their music down a different route.
‘Strangers Again’ opens this new album. This song is upbeat, with lyrics that hint at the last two years of vocalist Chrissy Costanza’s life. An easy mistake to make when creating pop songs is to overload a track with too much of everything. Against the Current have found the perfect balance of instruments here, adding different synths or riffs to ensure growth, whilst keeping the listener’s focus on Costanza’s impressive vocal.
The noticeable thing about Past Lives is how much the music has mellowed since the band’s debut in 2016. ‘I Like the Way’ has hints of early 2000s pop music. The lyrics are sentimental and emotional, with certain aspects suggesting this track is manufactured by a label to appeal to certain demographic. However, aiming to appeal to an audience hasn’t set Against the Current back; ‘Personal’ is produced wonderfully, with vocal effects adding depth and meaning to the lyrics and music.
Against the Current’s unique voice shone through in the 2016 track ‘Running with the Wild Things’. This unique voice can be found again in the defiant lyrics of ‘P.A.T.T.’. While it’s again written for their younger audience, it carries a positive message and challenges most modern media influences. It’s sure to be a fan favourite at live shows, with the upbeat nature of the track and the catchy lyrics.
‘Friendly Reminder’ has themes surrounding strength of character. Daniel Gow’s guitar sounds coupled with William Ferri’s electronic drums blur the lines between pop and rock. The result of this is a song that would fit perfectly with any of Against the Current’s old singles.
Closing the album is ‘Sweet Surrender’. Arpeggiated synths with a stunning tone form the roots of this track. The clarity and power of Costanza’s vocal shines not only in this song, but throughout the whole album. Her lyrics here hint at darker times, but the upbeat chorus is catchy and quickly moves past these intense elements. There is growth within this track, and the balance between music, vocals, and silence is perfect.
Against the Current have channelled plenty of emotion into Past Lives. The musical aspects of the album have followed a more conventional path, resulting in songs that do feel repetitive and generic. It’s easy to overlook this album as one that is manufactured and written to fit a mould, but behind this shiny pop exterior is a band that perform well as a unit and aren’t afraid to experiment and try something new.
Review: Dottie Giles