There is something irrefutably brilliant when bands do splits with one another. A band could go ahead and release an album – or they could record a couple of songs and find a band that plays in the same genre as them and throw those few songs they wrote onto an album with them. They instantly create a way to reach out to new fans as the fans of the opposing band will buy the split album and hear their music. They also tend to create brilliant songs as they do have to compete with the other band.
The making of a good split album is when the two bands support each other’s sound. This is something that The Felix Culpa and Foreign Tongues achieve on this album. They are both bands of the indie rock persuasion, but they are the complete opposites of one another. The Felix Culpa plays into a much more upbeat, and heavier sound, than Foreign Tongues does. Their music is both unbelievably sultry and upbeat, while also being tinged with same brooding heaviness of post-hardcore bands like Brand New. The opening song of the album is the incredibly sultry “Karma City”. It has a chugging sense of groove and melody which gets your foot tapping while also being incredibly sensual at the same time. The lyric that sells that sensual atmosphere is “I wasn’t even hungry / I just like the taste”. “Bloodletting Lines” abandons that sultry groove and instead launches into a riff-heavy and brooding song where The Felix Cupla’s post-hardcore nature shines through. They remind me of Brand New in their earlier years on this particular song.
The tone of the split changes when Foreign Tongues sluggishly crawls into the fray. They deliver an indie rock sound that is reminiscent of the gothic and brooding nature of Joy Division. The guitar riffs deliver a chugging rhythm which kick up a hazy smokescreen from which the drawling vocals emerge. Unlike The Felix Culpa, Foreign Tongues rather opts to stick to one particular sound on both their songs. The only difference between “Big Drag” and “Luxury” is that in the latter the distorted electric guitar is rather trade-off for an acoustic guitar and clean electric guitar riffs. Foreign Tongues starkly contrast the happier mood of The Felix Culpa’s music.
This is the mark of a good split album. The Felix Culpa and Foreign Tongues contrast each other – with the one band offering up something from the happier end of the spectrum and the other offering up something from the sombre end of the spectrum. Both bands have displayed an incredible amount of talent upon this split and neither band overpowers the other. You rather appreciate them for the fact that they both deliver something different.