Ingenuity and sincerity are quickly becoming some of the rarest qualities to find in any genre, but especially so in metalcore. Why? The typical “emotional” lyricism is nothing more than a marketable tinge on words that are vapid and substance-less. Yet, 14-year-olds everywhere feel like they’ve found the song that sums up their lives. It’s style veiled as depth, and it sells damn well. However, The Color Morale, until this point, has been a band that transcends that barrier for the most part. It saddens me to have added the phrase “until this point,” though. “Learned Behavior,” the band’s latest single, seems to be marking a change in that.
Let’s start with the musicality of the track. Previous work had fantastic structure and uncommonly intricate patterns of guitar and drum work. “Learned Behavior” has none of that. Instead, it’s compact with open notes, with palm mutes serving as the variance of tone. The format is no different, as it may as well be a new metalcore band that has no ability at writing a song other than verse-chorus-verse-chorus-breakdown-chorus. It’s a sequence of instrumentation that has been beaten to death’s door many times over.
From what I’ve seen, fans’ biggest complaints have been over the change of unclean vocals. However, this is a welcomed change. There is a much more distinguished presence that actually feels passionate, yet suited towards the style of metalcore being performed. Though the clean vocals sound just as lively as ever, the vocal melodies themselves sound stagnant and sloppily arranged.
“I found a foothold in the faultline. There is always a voice and it’s always there and this is what it says: ‘I still love you somehow.’”
These are The Color Morale lyrics that I find to be engaging, emotive, and interpretive. Instead of this brand of creative poetry, we find that “Learned Behavior” is marred by quotes that would be plastered on a tween tumblr.
“Sometimes it’s good to build up walls, not to keep anyone out, but to see who cares enough to knock them down” or “You never know what you had until it’s gone through hell for you.”
Sure, they are variants of common expressions. True, they aren’t verbatim and despite the emotional intent, it’s been said before, time and time again. In that regard, the lyricism has taken such a massive plunge that it follows in the footstep in the lackluster songwriting. Aside from all these complaints, perhaps this was a smart single choice as it features basic emotional appeal laced with straightforward presentation. In other regards, this may have been a terrible choice, as it provides little indication of where the album will go, other than that the vocal delivery will be different. Overall, this is quite possibly the worst The Color Morale song to be released. If nothing else, it is certainly the most generic. And it pains me to say that.