If you don’t know who’s in this band by now, you haven’t paid attention. Rather than wasting precious word count up front, we’ll gradually retort the roster and their accolades throughout. We’ve been talking about who’s who since August of 2008; let’s just get to the music.
Things open up with the instrumental “Kings and Chandeliers,” a perfect intro to the sounds you’ll be getting from I&G: carefully arranged keys and synths that seamlessly weave between all sorts of programmed sounds and slightly-altered drums. Craig Owens breaks the vocal silence with the intro/chorus of “Hills Like White Elephants,” then hands the reigns to Jonny Craig (Emarosa) and Vic Fuentes (Pierce The Veil) for a back-and-forth battle of a verse. Any question whether the three could co-exist is squashed by the first minute; Craig’s whine and falsetto, Jonny’s soulfulness and Vic’s piercing vocals blend perfectly, never getting old and never letting up their relentless attack. “Clush” really displays the beautiful balance struck between the three with its first verse by allowing everyone their turn at the mic, then a harmonization from one of their peers. It’s almost heroic how easily the sound shifts between the bunch.
“Empty Sighs and Wine” is simply a beast. The hook will grab anyone within 50 feet of a stereo, the instrumentation is superb, and the individual personalities shine through more than ever. Each singer slightly alters the chorus’ lyrics to fit their personality: Jonny clearly is interested in breakin’ off a piece of that, Vic is worried about how he won’t be able to reach her, and Craig simply won’t let her in at all. Maybe not the deepest or unique of musical topics, but the delivery and poise are simply sensational. Certainly a runaway-choice if a single were to be released, as few songs boom like this one.
After the completely boring and unnecessary interlude “Oceans For Backyards,” we arrive at the long-awaited unheard tracks. Those who skip the previous songs just to hear new I&G will be pleased with “Viola Lion” and “Cemetary Weather,” two great songs that are sure to be favorites. However, this is one of those releases that really is a flowing package. The Hearts of Lonely People is best listened to sequentially, letting the power drift into the mid-tempo and ballad closing tunes.
You really have to hand it to Brian Southall (ex-The Receiving End Of Sirens). “Viola Lion” is musically stunning, with deeply layered synths, bells, guitars, beats and a whole lot more, most of which I credit to Southall’s programming. I’m sure Mike, Matt, Nick, Vic and producer Casey Bates all contributed, but I hear a lot of TREOS–style mixing here. Along with fantastic instrumentation comes the biggest sing-along line of the album (“diamonds, diamonds, are you all in the sky / I can’t believe all of this beautiful lie”) delivered as only Jonny Craig could. Owens’ ghostly verses eerily work amidst the bells and whistles surrounding.
I’m going to have a new favorite with every listen, but “Cemetary Weather” currently holds the honor. Southall’s genius shines through again in the slowest track of most these guys’ careers, using an interesting time signature to perk the ears. The minimalist and tasteful backing puts the vocals at the heart of the track, mesmerizing listeners and keeping the track from sounding drawn out despite its seven-minute length. Try listening on a rainy day for the full effect of its brilliance.
I know you came here for Jonny Craig and Craig Owens, and there’s no shame in that. The two are stellar vocalists who lead a huge genre. What you’ll be surprised is how important Vic Fuentes is to the flow of this record; by taking a huge chunk of the vocal responsibilities, Jonny and Craig are able to restrain their power to select sections of the tracks. Even still, Vic manages to grab some spotlight and deliver many of the killer hooks the EP offers.
To answer your question, it’s great. Really great. The Hearts of Lonely People is sensational gathering of talents with a cohesiveness that no one could ever have expected. I could gush more and more, but you’ve got the idea by now. Many will beg for a sequel, but I pray the record be left alone as one of the more monumental occurrences in melodic post-hardcore.