There has been a lot of chatter and hype about melodic hardcore band Counterparts, but is it justified? I’m not one to add unnecessary hype to musicians that don’t deserve it, so let’s call balls and strikes.
The Current Will Carry Us is the second release for the Hamilton, Ontario band (Prophets was released in 2010). Here’s the method theory: strikes are good decisions and balls are outside, as in maybe not the best choice.
Starting with “The Disconnect,” the record starts off strong with plenty of amp feedback. This is our first strike because Counterparts are definitely energetic which is a necessary element of hardcore. The lyrics capture the feeling of not wanting to prove yourself to anyone and this lyrical theme persists throughout the album. The problem is, you begin to wonder if these words are actually from a teenage diary. Vocalist Brendan Murphy sings on “Optimist,” “We will make life worth living,” and that’s not the last time you’ll hear that either. Oh, maybe about six more times…in other songs. Geez, we get it- just sing about anything else please.
But energy can lead to chaos and unarranged song structure, and it does. In fact, that would be the biggest complaint with The Current Will Carry Us. At times a listener will feel thrown back and forth (ball), in the utterly wrong locations.
This leads us to musicianship, where there’s absolutely no guitar variety. It only attempts a metal sound a few times (as the chug in “MMVII”) and when compared to other melodic hardcore bands, they are a little weak (ball two). Above all, the singer is so desperately trying to sing like Jeremy Bolm of Touche Amore (but slightly more beefy) that it’s off-putting and you are unable to get past that. Yes, another ball.
Now here’s one solid strike: the back-to-back punch of “Jumping Ship” and “Pedestal” are different and there is even a little simplicity with drum solos and not having those typical xhardcorex breakdowns.
Lastly, there is an existence of general miscellaneous that should be addressed. Although “Thank God” isn’t stale hardcore, I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t heavy enough. In a similar manner to how other songs sounded reminiscent of Touche Amore, “Reflection,” sounds like it’s stolen from Thursday, with its very Thursday-esque atmospheric guitars, keyboards, and drum rolls behind pure screaming. You know what this means – ball four.
So you walked ‘em, and in a metaphorical sense, this record just kind of leaves you floating in the current. If you saw them live as an opening band, no doubt you would enjoy it. Headliners? Not there yet. Despite this, Counterparts has so much potential, it’s just not the album to do it. Any good coach knows there’s always room for improvement. Guys, you have my attention. Just don’t mess it up next time.