Album by William Dibble, photos provided by Senses Fail
Senses Fail has been a band for over fifteen years now. Since they came onto the scene, the hardcore and post-hardcore scenes have evolved. Some bands have fallen by the wayside while others have truly hit their stride. There will always be the people who scream about bands selling out, but at the end of the day, the one who makes the music is the artist, and whether you agree with their direction or not is irrelevant. Senses Fail is around, they’re still making music, and they are still artists. Their new album, If There Is Light, It Will Find You, debuts tomorrow, 16th February.
Right from the get-go, If There Is Light, It Will Find You opens on a powerful, practiced note. “Double Cross” is a fast, fun track. Combining deft guitar work with catchy vocals, “Double Cross” features a lot of the things that Senses Fail has become known for. Clearly screamed vocals, melodic clean vocals, and catchy hooks dot this song throughout, making sure that once you start listening, you will want to finish. The lead guitar hook to “Elevator to the Gallows” is fast, precise, and skilled. It gives way quickly to a section that is primarily vocals and drums. This gives those parts of the song time to shine, which they certainly do. Portions of this song sound like callbacks to the punk emo movement while blending in touches of hardcore. “New Jersey Makes, The World Takes” serves as another showcase of Buddy Nielsen’s singing skills. The chorus, “I’m not giving up today”, resonates particularly well given that the band is going to be turning twenty in just a few years.
The album’s first single, “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket”, is available on Youtube with a music video right now. It is a musically diverse song, borrowing elements from hardcore, punk, and even pop. Portions of it can almost be called soft, while the whole song is certainly true to Senses Fail’s heritage. They don’t shy away from messages about politics, either, with the line “Fuck the government, it’s an embarrassment, we’re all gonna die in debt.” If There Is Light, It Will Find You is both an artistic and political statement, and isn’t afraid to say, “we are Senses Fail and we stand for what we stand for.” The fifth track, “First Breath, Last Breath” has call-backs to softer vocal-centric punk tracks of the nineties and early thousands. After the fast pace of the first couple songs, it provides a pleasant mini-break. This break pervades through “Ancient Gods”. That isn’t’ to accuse either song of being ‘weak’. Both are excellent examples of how strong the songwriting skills in this album is, as they fit in perfectly with the rest of the album.
“Is It Gonna Be The Year” is a great follow-up. The song looks back and reflects on the choices made through life, asking what we will be remembered for. It asks the question, is this “gonna be the year that kills me, or will it be the world that saves me?” The overall message seems to focus on reflection and self improvement. Will we be remembered for our mistakes, or will we do better and be remembered for other things? “You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense” is a good follow-up in both theme and sound. The entire song, and album, has a nostalgic feel that brings to mind the era that Senses Fail hails from. “Orlando And A Miscarriage” is an excellent example of this. It isn’t the kind of nostalgia that makes you miss a bygone era so much as the kind that reminds you that just maybe, that era didn’t leave.
Another softer song, “Shaking Hands” takes on the feel of a ballad at points. It feels like a song about anxiety, being yourself, and putting yourself out there. It voices a feeling the entire album gives, that this is Senses Fail at their most honest, lyrically and musically. This theme feels like it is continued in “Stay What You Are”, a song that implores you to find what you are, and stay as what you are. It is, if anything, a love song to being yourself. The final song, “If There Is Light, It Will Find You”, is the namesake of the album. It consists of primarily clean vocals and guitars, and gives the entire album a soft, well-deserved sendoff. There are heavier, screamed parts, but they are expertly written and performed. It is also the album’s longest song, at over six minutes long.
If There Is Light, It Will Find You is possibly one of Senses Fail’s strongest albums to date. It is honest, open, and uncompromising. This is not the kind of album that you listen to once and forget about. To quote Buddy, “I don’t think people are going to listen to music right now that isn’t serious. They’re taking a look at the shit around them and saying, ‘No, no, no. We need to have a real conversation.’ Now, whether that’s dealing with personal sadness, or it’s something political, it still takes things earnestly.” It is a serious entry into the world of post-hardcore and punk rock, and deserves your full attention. It releases on music stores everywhere tomorrow. We would be remiss to not mention that Senses Fail is about to launch on a tour that will span the United States. Grab tickets here, and be sure to see them live!