Headspace isn’t exactly a sophomore slump. While nu-metal crossover outfit Issues maintains their signature easycore-meets-R&B sound, it becomes muddled and confusing on their newest release.
Despite masterful instrumentation, the album is lyrically lacking, with lines such as the utterly generic chorus of “Yung & Dum”: “Living the dream / Living the lifestyle that we want / Not a damn thing gonna change me / I’ll tell them where I’m from.” Some lines are just mystifying, like this thinker: “Do you ever ponder the sparks we had? / No explanation / Just two madly in love wild cards.” Of course, it can’t be easy to meld the romanticism of R&B with the intensity and often negativity of metalcore, but the derivative lyrics on Headspace don’t do justice to Issues’ songwriting skill or to Tyler Carter’s crystal clear vocals. (Also, at one point, the word “conversate” is used. Sorry, guys, but the word is “converse.” This is why spellcheck was invented!)
Interestingly, Michael Bohn, who usually performs the unclean vocals, also takes a shot at singing, and it fits surprisingly well. Bohn ends up providing a throaty, brash counterpart to Carter’s sugary voice. Carter also branches out into newer vocal territory with “Blue Wall,” a hip-hop infusion complete with lyrics rapped over heavy breakdowns. The style kind of works with Issues’ sound, but other tracks, like “The Realest” and “Flojo,” don’t quite succeed in genre-bending and end up sounding messy.
Even with all the stylistic changes, Issues still brings easycore-circa-2008 realness on tracks like “COMA” and “Lost-N-Found”, which take cues from metalcore’s heavy chugging guitars. Then there’s Bohn’s soaring vocal bridge on “Someone Who Does,” a dramatic anthem that attacks an absent father for his selfishness.
The band gets major props for breaking out of the metalcore sand trap of repetitive breakdowns and screams. Far too many artists in the genre get stuck with the mantra of “if it works, use it,” but Issues’ creativity pays off even if it’s not as cohesive as it could be. The band is still developing, and Headspace shows that there’s always room for growth.
Metalcore | Rise Records