Madina Lake ends an epic trilogy with their new album, World War III. For a band that has been through a lot in the last few years, this is it. The final fight. The comeback. The third time is usually a charm, like the old adage goes, but disappointingly in the end, with only a handful of solid songs, the only way to describe World War III is Attics To Eden 2.0.
With a sound that reflects atmospheric pop-rock bands like There For Tomorrow, Madina Lake was on a blaze in 2009 with Attics To Eden. Going into the studio with David Bendeth, the producer of Paramore’s Riot!, the band came out with a finished product that was more polished than anything they’d ever done. It was an album that not only captured a wide audience, but it put the band in the spotlight – just in time for World War III, their third studio album and what lead vocalist Nathan Leone promised as the band’s “most creative record to date.”
There’s no arguing that Madina Lake is a creative band. Their albums have all featured the story of Adalia, a character set in the 1950s, and the band speaks of the battle between good and evil in this record. The problem: the songs didn’t keep my attention the way that Attics To Eden and From Them, Through Us, To You did. Though it’s not an overall bad album, it’s just a bit weaker than their previous efforts. The mix of heavy guitar melodies, electronica, and poppy vocals sounded more oversaturated than Attics To Eden, and the band hardly did anything to try and improve their sound.
The opener, “Howdy Neighbor!” ultimately disappointed me. Madina Lake’s past songs are usually catchy enough to sing along the second time or so, but this one flopped a bit. It features a sound that mimics the band’s last record, displaying electronics, soaring guitar, and poppy vocals. Sadly, it’s just a run-of-the-mill alternative rock song. No worries, though; “Imagineer” brings back the same fast pace that I missed in the first track. Hearing the band at Warped Tour this summer, I recalled hearing them play this song, and it was astounding.
“Hey Superstar,” the first single, is the second of two standouts on World War III. The fuzzy guitar drives the track along with the atmospheric backing harmonies, keeping me tuned in to the beat of the song. But, unfortunately, the rest of the record proves that the band simply failed to reinvent themselves. Besides “Hey Superstar,” there’s nothing new to find. For example, the dancey beat of “Fireworks” mirrors “Legends,” the catchiest song off Attics To Eden, and the guitar lead in “What It Is To Wonder” sounds just like “Hey Superstar.” A lot of the songs just didn’t do much for me.
Progression is key to making a good album. If you hear two different albums by a band and can’t tell them apart, you know something’s not right. World War III demonstrates this problem pretty well. It’s not a bad album by any means, but this album bored me a bit and there was no jump in the band’s sound. That doesn’t mean that Madina Lake’s totally lost it, it just means that the trilogy is over and it’s time for something new.
Alternative Rock/Pop-Punk | Razor & Tie