In Stereo – Death Before Emo / 2005 New School / 6 Tracks / http://www.instereomusic.com / http://www.newschoolrecords.com / Reviewed 23 August 2005
The pop-punk played by In Stereo really is amazing considering that the current band has only been around for four months. Everything sounds smoothed out and mature, not quite unlike a better version of Unwritten Law. “Always And Forever” is reliant on repetitive guitar riffs in the vein of Weezer to succeed the vocals of Jesse are just not powerful enough to inflame the hearts of listeners with this go around. “When I Come Undone” is a track that has both vocals and instruments work at nearly the same wavelength; the catchy vocal hooks laid down by Jesse will make this into an eminently radio-worthy track. By the time that “Hey Amy” comes on, the clichéd guitar riffs and structure laid down by In Stereo really begins to grate on the ears, something that could be combated with the inclusion of a differing sound.
As it is, In Stereo really is a guilty pleasure type of band, much like SR-71 where their music may be episodic, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t eminently catchy. The inclusion of a fifties-influenced slower-tempo song in the final track “In The End” really skirts the line between seriousness and melodrama and is really a perfect capsule view of the entire disc. After all is said and down, “When I Come Undone” is the one track that will have a second life on all the radio stations and video music stations; as for anything else really coming close to the talent exhibited by the track on “Death Before Emo”, the disc sadly is lacking. Perhaps a move away from such a polished sound would be good for In Stereo, as the production has the tendency to remove anything in the slightest bit rough from the finished product.
Tracks do not have any sublime moments, just three or four minutes of pop-punk that does not change the current paradigm in any meaningful way. “Undertow” has the most impressive arrangement of any songs on “Death Before Emo”; the warmth of the multi-vocal layering towards the end of the track shows a victory for Marc’s production, something made all the more important after the questionable decision to make In Stereo’s sound so toothless. Still, as the band finds their own sound, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that In Stereo has the musical ability to succeed. The impending full-length will be interesting to hear just to see if In Stereo has moved away from the sound of “Death Before Emo”. Let’s just hope they have by then.
Top Track: When I Come Undone