Letter Kills starts “The Bridge” out with a funky guitar line, and “Lights Out” is a typical emo-rock track, replete with an active second set of vocals at odds with the lead. The first radio track is “Don’t Believe”, using ample high hats, emotive lyrics and a cohesive effort – the track may be lacking in innovation from “Lights Out” but it shows the band as dynamic, forever perfecting their sound. A virtulosic guitar solo leads into a drum-led breakdown, shaking things up enough that one will not get tired of the track. Never really getting started for “Whatever It Takes”, the same tempo and intriguing vocals are there, but everything seems laid out in Cakewalk, not infused with that soul that is necessary to take Letter Kills to the next level. Other following tracks, like “Brand New Man” also lack that special something, being utterly uptempo but ultimately a letdown in terms of originality, intensity, and integrity. In the vein of Brand New, specifically “The Quiet Things”, “Clock is Down” uses the same guitars and forced-out vocals that just scream-out Jesse.
The band was only around for two years before releasing “The Bridge”, and while they are about as close to perfection as it comes when playing emo-rock, they still have miles to go in creating their own sound and becoming innovative in that aspects. While tracks like “Time Marches On” may be solid radio fodder, the arrangements on the track are pure ear candy, good for the fourteen year olds but not for the serious music listeners. The harder-rock influence of the band, including musical nods to Lit and Deftones, add something different to their mix – most emo bands show their unabashed love for metal, not nu-rock. “Hold My Heart (Part Two)” is the weakest outing during the entirety of “The Bridge”, incorporating Steve Miller and The Who-style rock to college rock, without any inflection or iota of innovation.
“The Bridge” is incredibly disappointing. The album is a compilation of half-hearted attempts to ape the current alternatives to rock, and not very convincingly, at that. Letter Kills needs to hole up in their practice space and come up with some modicum of musical integrity or originality. There are a number of tracks on “the Bridge” I could conceivably hear on popular radio, but as one of the less-rotated disc. This is no “Swing Swing”, hell even one of the most radio-friendly and tolerable tracks on “The Bridge”, “Radio Up” isn’t even a “Right Now (SR-71)”. Skip this.
Top Tracks: None.
Letter Kills – The Bridge / 2004 Island Record / 12 Tracks / http://www.letterkills.com / http://www.islandrecords.com / Reviewed 11 November 2004