Life In A Tree – Say Goodbye To The Nighttime Skies – Album Review
I tell ya…for such a young band when it comes to their age, you don’t often find something that sounds this complete and well thought-out. I can tell you firsthand from listening to music all day long throughout the independent music-scene that there are full-on adults that don’t have it nearly as together as this group of 18/19 year-olds already do. C’MON! I have to seriously shake my head in disbelief sometimes when listening to Life In A Tree…no doubt in my mind that once they’re all officially finished school finally that they’re packing up their gear and heading out there on the road.
Because this band is READY. I knew that LAST TIME I heard them and they were even YOUNGER then!
Say Goodbye To The Nighttime Skies is also ready…well…pre-orders start officially February 17th…
*cough *cough *shameless plug
Once again…from everything I’ve heard on their new record, you’ve got every reason to be excited. A couple years older & wiser…I SUPPOSE they’re better musicians too? That’s honestly harder to say – this crew was entirely impressive before and from what I can tell, nothing’s changed about that whatsoever; the eleven new tunes on Say Goodbye To The Nighttime Skies continue to show that the unified core of this band and bonds between them lead them directly to constant creativity and high-quality tunes.
With gentle harmonies, guitar and drumbeat, “Discovering Sincerity” opens up the new album beautifully…resident singer/superstar Molly immediately makes an impact with stunning vocal melodies and tones that fill the music perfectly. Some artists & musicians you listen to along the way, you’re bound to remember – Molly is one of those electrifying voices in music you’ll never forget and continues to be a serious highlight in this band. Impressively however, the band has really stepped-up to the plate on this record with what sounds like more involvement in the vocals and a larger musical-presence…which is great, you can hear that this band indeed has grown between albums. As far as album-openings go though…I can’t argue with this choice at all; the building & the emotion are fantastic and Molly’s performance gets the energy flowing quickly. Really impressed with all the vocals that I hear in this track from backups to the leads…love the drums from Jimmy on this one, they sound excellent. Great start to the energy on Say Goodbye To The Nighttime Skies with “Discovering Sincerity” – the powerful emotion in the atmosphere really makes this first track truly sound like the beginning of an entire experience…and one you certainly want to partake in. Awesome to have Life In A Tree back already!
Carrying the energy into “It’s Not Distance,” the song starts strongly with its powerful drums/guitars leading the way until the song breaks-way to start-up the vocals. “It’s Not Distance” is actually a pretty interesting song overall…I’m not 100% sure it’s not a bit confused in its overall directions and choices, but the individual parts are spectacular. What “It’s Not Distance” might be missing in a smooth flow it’s traded for strength in ideas; there’s no doubt in my mind that this is already a sign of maturity in the writing, stretching for those new ideas within the alternative-genre/sound. In a sense I think they might have almost added too much into “It’s Not Distance” for their own good here…I like that they’re pushing for something new but I have the suspicion that this track might wander a little too far at times for people to stick with it & follow along. You still get plenty of power & hooks on “It’s Not Distance” – it IS still Life In A Tree and you can always rely on this band to create plenty of both – but yeah…ambitious track…time will tell if I’m correct on my assumptions of this song being a bit tougher for people to connect with in comparison to the rest on this record.
One thing that’s rad about music in general is how sometimes a single moment or element within a song can be make or break for it when it comes to what we personally want to hear. I struggled with a few elements of “Colored Hearts,” the choppy/distorted guitars weren’t really doing it for me at first when they kicked-in after enjoying the smoothness of the opening so much. I really liked the recording in the verse…wasn’t sure about the writing overall at first when it came to the backing vocals & chorus ‘na-na-na’ chants – but I don’t hold that against Life In A Tree, I’ve just never been a ‘na-na-na’ guy is all. What I can tell you specifically though…is that right at that first bend of Molly’s vocals at roughly 1:07 (ok ok, exactly) I was beyond sold on this song…everything else and all my issues seemed to fade away. Allowing her instincts to lead the way, she’s written smart vocal melodies throughout the threads of this song…but MAN she takes it up to that extraordinary next-level once again in the chorus. So honestly – that changed things for me…a LOT…and I had no problem sticking with this track from that point. Molly puts in multiple highlight moments throughout the song from there to keep us interested – but Life In A Tree still has another card up their sleeves saved for the ending; they take the power & energy through the roof and rock this one spectacularly for about the final thirty-seconds with some of their best vocals to-date securing victory for this song in its final moments.
After a brief, atmospheric encounter through “Nighttime Skies Interlude” led by beautiful, intricate guitar tones, smart drums, clever effects and thick bass to fill the sound, Say Goodbye To Nighttime Skies continues with one of the songs that had the most immediate impact. I’ll confess…Molly’s easy to hear on her songs…I’m not sure if it’s Tyler or DJ that takes the lead-vocals here…but I can certainly tell you they’ve done an AMAZING job on the earliest single released from this record, called “The Odds.” Without question – this is a hit as far as I’ve ever heard one; the vocal melody is INSANELY GOOD and the combination of lead/backing vocals on this song puts real power into this tune. Life In A Tree plays this one to absolute perfection and delivers what I’d certainly consider to be one of the best songs I’ve heard from them to-date…the emotion in the vocals is spectacular – you can hear it just dripping from the mic in the opening/ending moments of this song. “The Odds” has massive hooks in the verse, equal caliber quality in the chorus…at least I think so…truthfully, the verse on “The Odds” is so outstanding that it’s hard to ultimately pass that judgement. The guitars are crazy-good…sparkling notes everywhere that sound amazing…the rip into the grip of distortion into the chorus brings this song into another gear that really works incredibly well. I haven’t even mentioned the breakdowns yet! I could rant and rave about this song all day long but suffice it to say that “The Odds” was a seriously impressive moment on this record! The instrumental breakdown early on is amazing to listen to…I love the space and sound in the recording of the way the song begins. Life In A Tree lays down a really smart breakdown towards the end as well, breaking it down to that vocal-melody & flow to lead the way to the bring-back…incredible. The beginning of the second-verse is an extreme highlight as well and the energy and approach they have to this melody overall proves that Life In A Tree still has plenty of magic growing strongly within its roots.
“Sleeping In The Street” is one of the more ambitious cuts on their new record for sure. I don’t often question Molly’s instincts, tone or direction…but I’ll admit she had me wondering a bit at the very beginning of this track if she really got the most out of the sound she was looking for there. It’s a tougher part with its low-key energy…she quickly catches up and leaves no doubt about her place with the more power & confidence she gains with each stride in this song. But what’s THIS? The boys are truly applying some internal pressure here! As they take the lead in the chorus, “Sleeping In The Street” really livens-up…Molly continues to do a hero’s job in the background, but the main-lead in the chorus really NAILS that part without question. Really like the mix on Molly’s vocals during the ‘do-do-do’ parts; you see – I’m only tough on ‘na-na-nas’ for whatever reason, ‘do-do-dos’ are more than cool. “Sleeping In The Street” goes through one of the largest & most grandiose changes mid-stream in this song as they crank-up the energy for another incredibly inspired ending that brings this one home. I like the poetic nature & atmosphere surrounding the lyrics of the verse in this tune – gotta admit though…that is one GOLDEN chorus once again from Life In A Tree that really takes it up another level to establish a highly memorable impact.
The middle of this record is STRONG people – eat your Wheaties and be prepared!
You can hear from the opening guitars and atmospheric keyboards from Andrew on “Don’t Bother” that you’re about to be in for something powerful, something special. Molly steps even more confidently into the spotlight here, really letting her voice showcase the fearless approach she has at her very best. Hitting spectacular notes and really leading the charge with strong tones and a pumped-up performance – the band is also firing on all-cylinders in behind her. Standout bass keeps the rhythm rolling along in this one, even though the cut & rip through this one is in that familiar LIAT-style; between the drums and bass communicating so well here this track stays right on-target. Rad guitar solos in here too.
All that being said…there’s a TON of grey in this beard for plenty of good reason…but it’s definitely an indication that somewhere along the lines, I’ve heard it all. So…as much as this band may/may-not HATE ME for saying this…is that a slight hint of Country-music subtly worked into “Don’t Bother” that I’m picking up on? I mean…I’m just sayin…
“Loud Minds” is a seriously wild ride. From its smart guitars parts, beautifully accenting piano/keyboards and insanely rad ideas in the vocal department – “Loud Minds” is certainly one of the most ambitious tracks on this record. The beginning is impressive to begin with – the switch at around the 2:30-mark is mind-blowing. Definitely one of the tracks that I think best highlights the continued evolution in the Life In A Tree sound and points their potential towards even more. “Loud Minds” has extra drama & theatrics from Molly up-front on the vocals that sound excellent…but overall this is a real standout track for the entire band and especially their songwriting. Perhaps a bit more expressive and artistic in ways they’ve yet to show us or explore fully – “Loud Minds” feels like a real breath of fresh-air in the creativity and direction of sound for Life In A Tree. I can’t get over that switch though! The power of this band at their most focused is an incredibly rewarding experience to listen to – you can feel the energy of this song absolutely surge right through your body and soul over the course of its final ninety-seconds.
The vocals and simplified approach to the chorus on “Realign” saved this one for me. No real beef with the song – Life In A Tree is certainly as reliable as ever and plays this one just as tightly as they have the rest…but I definitely thought Molly was what made this track go from ordinary to extraordinary. Extremely powerful melodies in the vocal-flow and without question some of the strongest notes she hits on the entire record are housed within this song. I think they also played this one extremely smart with the writing on the chorus…the pre-chorus itself beautifully leads into the chant and encouragement to “Realign” – it’s got a wonderful emotion-filled build-up to what becomes simple, powerful & effective. The breakdown mid-song is equally well-designed and I love the energy they bring back to their music. The extraordinary entirety of the full-chorus in both its main-parts combined really sounded strong, inspired and perfectly executed.
Their collective, unified sound hits another highlight with “Say It Twice” towards the end of the album. When this band gets it right, they really get it right…and I think songs like “The Odds” and “Say It Twice” definitely showcase the potential hit-worthy writing this band has within their core. “Say It Twice” is all-out entertainment and melody combined smartly, powerfully and precisely…multiple-hooks in the writing and stunning execution in their performance that the ears simply can’t ignore. “Say It Twice” doesn’t even wait a solitary second before it starts digging its hooks into you, they begin immediately and consistently grow stronger with every moment from there. That vocal-melody and part they’ve written into how they sing this chorus is designed to slip smoothly into inviting ears all-over the globe; they put power and heart into the words and genuine passion into the vocalizations that fill the rest as perfectly as you could ever hope to hear. I dig the mid-song change…reminded me of the early energy, switches and transitions of an early version of No Doubt before Gwen got all insane and married Gavin. Real energy, punch and powerful parts in “Say It Twice” laid out immaculately as this song unfolds; smart choices from the backup-vocals to the clever & subtle keyboard additions in behind the roar of the guitars and supercharged lead-vocals from Molly. Insanely cool chorus on “Say It Twice” that is like, EVERYTHING I want to hear…I can’t shove this song in my face fast enough!
“Times Will Change” morphs and transforms into quite the adventure…a song that really delivers a solid conclusion to what’s already been another quality set of songs from Life In A Tree. “Times Will Change” has a series of brilliantly played & well-written parts…and I think that you can hear the band lighten-up in the sense that they’re not looking to necessarily just write another hit so much as a song that people can really chew on…a song that will really last. There are hooks…plenty of them of course…but again, another track that moves along from part-to-part with more artistic ambition than a straight-ahead line would draw; that first switch that takes place before even a minute in is awesome and has solid depth to its sound. Leading them to a seriously smart decision to put all their vocalists on the mic before launching back into the trade-off vocals that fuel the mid-section of this song powerfully; the guitars breakdown…the keyboards are left behind with a haunting vibe, the drums come in storming powerfully with Molly’s soaring vocals as “Life In A Tree” puts in one more massive switch in sound & direction before punching into one final run-through of their chorus to the end.
I really do love this band and I’m continually amazed at just how much they can accomplish in their writing, performances and music overall. Say Goodbye To The Nighttime Skies shows this band continues to develop & grow at an impressive rate – and if they keep up their high-energy passion and relentless drive to make music their life…this band could be around for a very, very long time.
And for the record…in case it hasn’t come through clearly enough in this review…I think that’d be awesomeness for all-ears concerned.
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