“Snake oil” is the common term for an ointment or medication that does nothing, but is advertised as a cure. Despite opening with the track entitled “Snake Oil,” Something Clever’s full-length album, Season of Light, is no false medication. With many similarities to AFI, My Chemical Romance, and other headliners of the emo-punk movement of the late 2000s, this album is certain to be a real crowd pleaser, both live and in its recording. The vocal, guitar, and drum quality of the album are top notch, with fantastic mastering and leveling in all aspects. The album rarely feels too quiet or too loud, and listens very pleasantly on both small and large speakers.
“Snake Oil” immediately hearkens back to the heyday of emo, combining screams and melodic vocals right from the opening lines. In places, the style of this blending is not dissimilar to AFI’s popular “Miss Murder.” “Snake Oil” pushes forward with powerful lyrics and instrumentals right into the breakdown all the way to the end of the song, which leads into the album’s namesake track “Season of Light.” The lyrics, which were aggressive and cynical in the prior track, have become hopeful and uplifting. Here we trade the breakdowns and screams for a softer, almost clean sound. The chorus of this song will certainly invite audience participation, and it provides a powerful contrast to the album’s opener.
The respite doesn’t last long, however. “Living Not Existing” opens with the song’s powerful main line, launching straight into a blasting track with punk inspirations. The lyrics of this one are a powerful reminder that living and existing are two separate concepts, and a rallying cry for people to pull together. Season of Light doesn’t let up there, with the more metalcore-inspired track, “Never Been to Vancouver,” next up on the album. The soaring vocals match perfectly with the screams on this track, mixed in with breakdowns and fast, heavy, guitar work. If any song on the album were to create a mosh pit, “Never Been to Vancouver” would definitely be it. Just listening to it inspires energy and gets the listener ready to move. The energy and power continue straight into the intro of “Break Through,” before cooling down just a little for a more traditionally emo sound. This song merits the softer tone, though, as it talks about forgiveness and second chances.
As “A Loss for Words” begins playing, it leaves the listener with no doubt that this will be an energetic roam, blending elements of traditional metal and punk rock into one sound. Something Clever does this almost effortlessly. For those of the listeners who may feel like all they can do is hold on and survive, “A Loss for Words” may feel somewhat like an anthem, with its admission that all the singer can do is keep breathing while they stand. After this powerful song, the instrumental track “Daybreak” both gives the listener a respite, and serves as an intro to “You’re Gone.”
“Dysphagia” returns us from the traditionally emo tones of the previous song back towards the boundaries, flirting heavily with the lines between emo and metal. “Dysphagia” is an angry, pulsing anthem that is best played loud. The straightforward chorus is definitely something that will inspire crowds to join in on the singing. The musical theme continues into “Black Diamonds,” which opens with a deafening metal riff before cooling down into more traditional emo motifs. The lyrics serve as a visceral and vivid reminder that people are a summary of their lives, both good and bad. The song ends on a hard note, taking us into the rousing punk tones of “Rise.” After the darker tones of the prior track, the powerful anthem “Rise” is a roaring call to action, bidding the listener to stand up for themselves and fight for their own.
Season of Light calms down a bit when it transitions to “Drown.” This song starts off heavy and melancholy as the narrator expresses the feeling of being consumed by the weight of everything around and being unable to swim. By the song’s end, though, hope has returned as they declare decidedly that they won’t give up, despite all that’s going on. This theme is appropriate for the final track, “Still Alive.” As the narrator watches their world collapse and fall apart, the song journeys from emo and punk tones into heavier breakdowns, eventually reaching a resolution that they know they are still alive. The overall message of the dynamic album seems to trend toward the uplifting anthem that though we must each find our own light and keep it lit despite the darkness we face, we are never alone.
For more about Something Clever and the recording process for “Season of Light,” check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage below!