About a year ago we all witnessed the fall of The Fall of Troy. Their album In The Unlikely Event was a huge disappointment to many long-time fans and months after the album was released the band broke up. At the time I was pretty sad. The Fall of Troy was one of the bands that really helped me broaden my horizons from shitty metal into post-hardcore and their first 3 albums are still some of my favorites. But I didn't really see the band recovering from ITUE, so it was probably the best thing for them to do. A few months ago I discovered that guitarist/vocalist Thomas Erak was already in the process of forming a new band, Just Like Vinyl. I was excited to hear what Thom had in store with his new band, but tweets from him explaining the bands' sound as "explosive guitar wild rock" left me very skeptical. Now that I've heard Just Like Vinyl's debut LP I can say that it is definitely better than The Fall of Troy's last album, but it still leaves much to be desired.
The first thing you will notice on this album is that Thom has pretty much kept the same sound that was introduced on In The Unlikely Event, but it is much more polished this time around. We'll start with Thom's obvious weak point, his vocals. Ever since Manipulator Thom has been really working on trying to be a more competent vocalist, but has usually ended up getting worse in the process. The vocals are pretty good for his standards, but are still hit and miss. The second track Cardiac Harassment opens up with the most laughable singing on the entire album, but tracks like Death of The Sheep and Kite showcase him at the top of his game. The track Epiphany also features prominent vocals from guitarist Jake Carden in which he and Erak trade off and harmonize in a classic pop-punk manner. Most of the vocals are singing, but the occasional screams are always well-placed. The Circulatory System starts as one of the poppiest songs on the album, but then explodes with a heavy riff and screaming midway through and perfectly transition back into a pop song. And the break in Kite where all the members scream after one another is one of the best moment on the entire album.
Now, what Thomas Erak is most well knows for, the guitars. Erak has really learned how to control his guitar playing and manages to not noodle much at all on the album. Instead of his spazzy playing that made him famous we are presented with a more straightforward rock style of playing with a bit of Erak edge. No Friend of Mine is a definite highlight with it's interesting lead riff in the beginning and impressive guitar solos during the bridge. Death of The Sheep also has some of the more impressive guitars with great harmonizing lead lines being played throughout the song and another great guitar solo to top it off. The rhythm section takse a back seat to the guitar and vocals most of the time, but are far from boring. The drummer Jay Beaman's beats are nothing too fancy, but he throws in enough fills to keep it interesting and bassist Henry Batts has some great lines that really shine in the poppier sections of songs like The Circulatory System and Kite. The instrumentation overall is wonderful and I expect nothing less from Erak.
So as you can see I don't have much of a problem with the music on this album. It is executed well and is fun to listen to, but my problem with the album isn't really what's on the album. It's what's not on it. Yeah, Erak corrected his large misstep with In The Unlikely Event, but there isn't really anything new on this album. The lack of experimentation really keeps it from being more than a pretty good album. It's exactly what I would expect from Erak and I mean that in a bad way.
The lack of experimentation isn't excusable, but it is understandable. Erak had been in a band with the same 2 guys since high school, so playing without them can be seen as experimentation in itself. Hopefully once Erak gets more settled in with his new band they can make a truly great album, because I know they are capable of it. This album signifies hope for fans of The Fall of Troy and Thomas Erak. In The Unlikely Event crushed our hopes, but Just Like Vinyl brings a tiny glimmer of it back.
One last thing. What's up with this picture? Seriously, Thom looks like fucking Alex from a clockwork orange. This look needs to go.