The challenge that a band faces when releasing acoustic songs is maintaining the balance between the obvious beauties of acoustic renditions and also finding a way to hook your fans. This becomes incredibly challenging with acoustic songs as you’re unable to produce catchy hooks on an acoustic guitar as opposed to the ones you could create on an electric guitar. War Games managed to figure out that the trick is to make the beauty of acoustic songs the hook.
The Acoustic Sessions E.P. adds up to a brief 19 minutes spread out over five songs, yet it may be some of the most beautiful 19 minutes that I have spent in my life. Okay, maybe not one of the most beautiful but it is up there among the various beautiful moments I have encountered. It begins with the fairly low-key and slightly bland “Don’t Lose Your Head” but from this point on, the EP improves.
“The Only Debt We Bear Is Love” begins with a beautiful piano medley that twists and weaves throughout the track while being coated in layers of gentle acoustic strumming, snare drums and the haunting vocal trade-offs of Kyle Therrien and Andy Calheta. They harmonise brilliantly with one another and add an emotional rawness to the songs that you’d expect from the likes of Brand New and Thrice.
“Mountains” is an acoustic song at its best. The focus is on the vocals while the acoustic guitar merely forms a background noise accompanied by the slight haze of synth tones at some parts. Therrien delivers some fairly poignant lyrics on this song such as “Just stand tall and live day by day/ because we’ve got it all flowing through our veins.”
“Submerge Me” feels like a post-hardcore song that has had an acoustic formula applied to it as Therrien’s vocals slash through the gentle and painstakingly beautiful acoustic strumming of Ian Provost and Matt Dilecce with the ferocity and rawness of Jesse Lacey in Brand New’s earlier days. “Submerge Me” seems to be a song that embodies nearly every principle of acoustic emo music and makes the 13 year old kid inside of me come out as I’m carried away by the tumult of angsty teenage love imbued within this song.
The EP closes on the beautiful “Crashing Like a Wave” in a rather fitting way as the beauty of the song comes rushing over you like a wave in a way that can only be described as uplifting. The song is layered with an uplifting acoustic guitar, pounding snare drums that give the song a sense of urgency and Therrien’s raw vocals which give it an emotional clout that will leave you reeling and desiring more.
Quite honestly, I often struggle to listen to fully acoustic music as I tend to get bored. I require a sense of energy within my music, but there are rare occasions when an acoustic song or album will grab my attention and clutch at my heart. In this case, War Games have stolen my heart and run away with it upon The Acoustic Session EP. It is the fatal blend of acoustic beauty and traditional emo ethics.