Spoken has been making music for nearly ten years now. And it was only two years ago that they signed to Tooth & Nail and released a A Moment of Imperfect Clarity. For many, it was the first time being exposed to this brand of emocore. For others, it was the first time their band was getting any respect. Newbies fell in love with the melodic emo/rock, while some diehards wondered where the hardcore edge of yesteryear had gone. Regardless, all parties are in anticipation for the band's fifth studio album Last Chance to Breathe, which is ready for release.
It would not be a Spoken album review without making note of the fact that Matt Baird's vocals are, have been, and always will be an acquired taste. If you are able to digest them, great; if not, there is certainly nothing wrong with you. At times they are low and melodic, at others, they are high and whiny, in an attempt to be epic. It seems Baird tries to stretch his vocal capabilities to their limits on Last Chance to Breathe, with success at certain points, and the opposite at others.
His vocal abilities are their best when the band goes back to the basics with their hardcore edge. Severely lacking on A Moment of Imperfect Clarity, this latest release brings back some of the aggression of previous work from Spoken. Baird's screams are intense and in your face, and the music perfectly compliments them. Tracks like "Bitter Taste" (Featuring Cory Brandan of Norma Jean) and "Everything Is Burning" make blatant use of the return to hardcore, while other tracks use it to varying degrees.
Also returning are Spoken's lyrical depth and integrity. Always emotionally intense, they almost make up for the few awkward moments in Baird's voice. Most are blatantly God-centered, while others are based on earthly relationships that should reflect the Father. Especially fun is the cover of the Cyndi Lauper track "Time after Time."
Spoken has put together another fine project. Maybe not their best, but still one of their better. Baird needs to restrict his vocals, without compromising lyrical integrity. Regardless, this is a great emocore release that none should be reluctant in giving a spin. It is a bit tough to sink your teeth into; but, if you can, Last Time to Breathe is one tasty treat.- Review date: 08/29/05, written by Josh Taylor
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