“What will be, will be.”
This beautiful, yet haunting phrase is indicative of a fate, a destiny that is ours to fulfill. Whatever happens is meant to happen. It was destined to. And in this light, destiny has been kind to Sacramento’s K Sera. Over the years, we’ve heard much from the band, a total of three EPs that developed their intricate sound of indie rock with theatrical flavors. And now the time has come for this sound to be on full display. Collisions and Near Misses is finally happening, and it was meant to. By far their greatest work, K Sera have achieved their magnum opus with their debut full length.
The opening track, “Collisions” is certainly the brightest, most playful one. A perfect opener, the song showcases immense production value, where everything feels and sounds spacious and well-composed. In a way, “Collisions” taunts virtually every tone that is featured on the album, be it the vibrant, glassy piano lines, the bold and vivacious percussion and bass, ambient and/or chunky guitar melodies, or crisp vocal deliveries that phase into full-blown choral melodies. The song culminates into a final verse where vocalist Mike Caswell personally invites you to “enjoy the show.” A fitting conclusion that heightens anticipation for every stellar performance in the eclectic presentation that is Collisions and Near Misses.
Second track “Near Misses” turns the tables and introduces a faint, ominous verse that is the polar opposite to that of “Collisions.” The majority of the track just seems distant and elusive and offers a newfound atmospheric presentation that was rarely traversed on either of the Cantos EPs. Glistening piano keys are struck powerfully against tight percussion that wouldn’t be out of place on Muse‘s Black Holes and Revelations. The frantic nature of the bridge is overtly energetic and forceful, a quality that is found again on “Meditations in an Emergency,” which is perhaps the heaviest K Sera song to date. Vocal melodies are bitter and grate in juxtaposition of polka rhythms, and the song features a stunningly aggressive reprieve, a breakdown as it were. But don’t fret – the band keeps it all in good taste. Again, the massive momentum continues to evolve and expound, this time in the form of lead single “Dream, Like I Do.” Electronic and orchestral additions are featured and breathe gloriously beneath a frustrated vocal delivery and furious guitar lines that are either riffing constantly or grinding top strings with a stressed intensity.
Finally though, this blistering culmination of speed regresses to a beautiful flutter as “St. Peter (Better Than Yours)” begins to pulsate. Everything about the track is endearing and expressive, be it the simple piano melodies or the swift, free-floating synthesizers. Elongated and intricate, the song gives you a breath for the second half of the album, which highlights a much more experimental K Sera.
“Carry” implements more electronic instrumentation that enhances the tone of all the instruments, especially the immaculate bass riffs (seriously, that bass tone is insane) and the sporadic guitar lines. Vocal melodies are drawn out and sung with great spirits, especially with a perfectly executed shift that closes the track at its peak. “True Enough to Be Interesting,” though, may be the song that marks and maps Collisions and Near Misses. It simply exudes style, never restraining or veiling it, even for a second. Instrumentally, it features the most challenging, diverse deliveries that play out in the vein of Panic! At the Disco, but far more complex. Here, you don’t just taste the theatricality; you feast on it, like a colorful meal riddled with spice and flavor, though still palatable and delicious. “Hollow Ground of London” advances this facet further. The verses are classic The Cantos: I, with touches of The Dear Hunter (partly due to Casey Crescenzo’s magical production and crucial incorporation of a hearty mandolin). The substantially long bridge, though, roams about in a classical rock manner, with stunted guitar solos played above opera-style piano (Queen, anyone?) that electrifies everything that came before and comes after. “Ambien” returns to where “Near Misses” resides, as it retains a sincere balance between restraint and elasticity, until it all breaks loose in a bridge that would be expected on a Closure in Moscow album, giving you your final taste of the dramatic and relentless attitude that K Sera have found their niche in.
The final track, “The Economist” is refreshing and mellow, an unspoken sequel to the direction “St. Peter” followed. This flourishing mix of instrumentation is decisively the most beautiful in all of K Sera’s discography. So clear and clean, it’s borderline disturbing, like a final breath to a wonderful soul, a life that has gone too soon. And all things considered, that is my only gripe with Collisions and Near Misses: it seems to end all too quickly. But we must remember that it is still a full length, and an astounding one at that. And though fans, myself included, have longed for more since the beginning, the timing couldn’t be better. Everything that we have grown to love about K Sera is certainly front and center, developed fully and accompanied with new attributes that bring these traits to life. Without hesitation, this is K Sera at their core, presenting the finest work they have ever created. It’s as if it were destiny.