Issues have yet to slow down this year. Beginning 2014 with a tour, debut album, and more tours, and ending with their very first US headliner, they are surely on a roll. They continue this incredible rigor with their acoustic EP, Diamond Dreams, reaching out their sound to wider audiences and genres. It’s a smart move for such a rapidly growing group. Issues don’t just put their hits to a guitar, however. Although some tracks don’t have as much power as others, they reimagine and recreate some of the band’s most defining moments and incorporate them into the chilling realm of R&B and lighthearted musical passion.
Like any acoustic album, Issues fans get to see their favorite songs in a whole new light. They hear lyrics with fresh perspectives and pull raw emotion from each track like never before. Of course, the meaning and emotions behind a song is there from day one, but Diamond Dreams uses its magical qualities to open the eyes of listeners in dramatic ways. The anthemic “Hooligans” opens the EP, giving its slow, stripped down control a chance for listeners to really take in the emotions of an outsider and hone them in with their own experiences. When the song ends, you don’t feel so alone anymore. “Never Lose Your Flames” is a more simplistic approach to an acoustic track, but collaborating with pop punk outfit Neck Deep adds a fun touch and broader sound.
The twinkling style of “King of Amarillo” is full of hooks and a lovely melody, but vocalist Tyler Carter turns things completely around by changing the lyrics of the song from spiteful to ambivalent about the music industry. The softening of these words definitely goes hand-in-hand with the lighter tone of the instrumentation as well. Even when they team up with Nylo again for the stripped version of “Tears on the Runway, Pt. 2” her dominant vocals and the chilling piano create one of my favorite tracks on the EP. This track can especially attract a lot of attention from all types of music lovers, giving Issues a chance to really make an impression in the mainstream music scene.
As fulfilling as these standout tracks are, some that are meshed in between don’t hold the same incredible power, making it hard for them to live up to the EP’s highlights. There is a consistency of catchiness and enjoyment with each track on Diamond Dreams, but after knowing what Issues are capable of, it’s something listeners want to hear 24/7. Some tracks just aren’t meant to be stripped down, and “Princeton Ave” is one of them. They make a strong effort to give it a smoother sound, but it doesn’t seem to match the power of the original, or the other acoustic variations on Diamond Dreams.
The same idea goes for “The Worst of Them”, which is concerning, considering it is the closing track on the EP. This spot should have gone to “Disappear”, the most emotional song surrounding loss on Issues’ discography. Their stripped rendition of this track is raw and heartfelt, exposing moments of Carter clearly choking up in the studio. This reinvented version of the heart-wrenching track is even more amplified with moody ambience and deep guitar riffs. This would have been the perfect finale, just like it was on their self-titled album.
Nevertheless, Issues have done quite the job of giving their strong music even more significance and universal enjoyment. Diamond Dreams keeps the old fans coming back and sparks the interest of more to come. After establishing and growing from their successes this year, one can only imagine how they will rock the music scene in 2015.