In the music industry, the loss of a primary and focal point vocalist usually solidifies the end for bigger bands, as their sound is ultimately changed. All too often, that is a problem that plagues many of our favorite bands. Iwrestledabearonce was hit that with brick last year when former vocalist Krysta Cameron got pregnant and wound up leaving the band to care for her upcoming (now born) child; her replacement Courtney LaPlante, who happened to be a friend of Cameron, stepped up quickly to fill the spot. IWABO can best be described as a giant pot of fondue, but only if that fondue had more than just cheese in it – throw in some tomato soup, pizza, fish sticks, plus any other random pieces of food, and there you have it. They have no genre, although they basically fall under the metal umbrella.
Late for Nothing takes a step in the more contemporary direction, in the sense that the avant-garde moments riddled with off-the-cuff jazz-fused melodies and eccentric time signatures are found in fewer intervals on the record, traded instead for more accessible moments that will have fewer people scratching their heads. Typical IWABO moments are rampant and galloping in full sail breakdowns (“Firebees,” “Carnage Asada,” “Snake Charmer”) and melodic frazzles (“Mind the Gap,” “The Map”), but ultimately it is rather cut and dry. Nothing too spontaneous comes in anywhere unexpected, and after a while the formula gets tired.
Now assessing the elephant in the room, how does LaPlante hold up on the microphone? There’s no other way to put it – and I’m pretty sure this happened on purpose – but she sounds exactly like Cameron. It’s quite uncanny. Scream-wise, clean-wise, it’s on the same wavelength, and this affects the soundpositively and negatively. LaPlante’s shrieks and growls still carry the same amount of grumbling distortion, and part of this is due to an identical recording technique. Singing-wise her voice is great, and has many moments where it shines (“Thunder Chunky,” “Boat Paddle”), but in no way does it overshadow any of Cameron’s achievements. In many ways, I wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart. One thing that does differentiate though, is the fact that LaPlante tends to sound rather bored on many lines, especially during softer parts, but mixing is partially to blame for this. The result is ultimately solid and mostly impressive, but nothing mind-blowing. She is certainly talented enough for it, but she’ll have to take several steps forward on future releases.
In comparison to earlier works, IWABO didn’t really make much movement, either forward or backward. Musically the foundational elements that make up the majority of the finesse – guitar, bass, drums – ride the line of “heard it before” (“That’s a Horse of a Different Color”) and “hook-worthy” (“Inside Job”), and we all already know they’re capable of more than these things. I’ve never taken them seriously musically, but with this record the aspect of them being serious(ish) is more defined. The borderline hilarious moments of their debut It’s All Happening are no longer around, which both hurts and helps them. This band needs some real drive besides ironic song titles and a guest spot from Steve Vai to keep them relevant.
Late for Nothing is a solid attempt at keeping the boat afloat, and realistically they should coast on it for a while, but without some real inspiration, the boat will eventually sink from mediocrity.