I feel like Sunday mornings were just made for checking out new music. It’s energizing to sit here with a cup of coffee and discover an album and/or band that instantly becomes my soundtrack for the day instead of reverting back to my normal early 2000’s pop-punk go to’s. I was excited to check out Barely Civil’s ‘I’ll Figure This Out’ because everything else that Take This To Heart Records has sent me to review has hit me just right and I had a feeling that this release would be no different. I got the cats fed, poured a fresh cup of coffee and replaced my nostalgic playlist blaring through my house with this new album.
“…For Now” starts the album off in an extremely powerful way. Starting with just a steady and booming sound before the vocals come in, I was intrigued. This opening track really doesn’t give you much as far as an idea of what is to come until the anthemic guitars came in and created a full powerful soundscape before the album moves onto “Bottom of the Lake”.
“Bottom of the Lake” is powerful just like the introductory track but there’s something highly emotional to it at the same time. I instantly knew this was going to be a new favorite of mine. There are strong nods to bands like The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die and Explosions In The Sky while pulling from the new-school pop-punk world of The Front Bottoms and All Get Out. It’s the perfect blend of old and new, emotional and powerful, and slow and chaotic. What I’m trying to say is I was completely sold on this album as “Bottom Of the Lake” faded out and “Graves Avenue” kicked in.
There’s something haunting in the vocals during “Graves Avenue”. There’s a slight echo to them that makes them feel hollow in a way but you can feel the heaviness behind every word at the same time. The way the vocals float over the lound ambiance behind them is perfect and nothing short of goosebump inducing. “North Newhall” seems to take the emotional tinge laid out in “Graves Avenue” and make it a little more optimistic without getting too happy. Maybe I’m only saying that because I found the guitar part in this song playful but, regardless, I loved this song. It was soft and sweet and, although when you really dig into the lyrics, it’s anything but happy, brought a smile to my face. Glimpses of chaos come in during this beautiful guitar work which eventually takes over the song. The way this rise of sound and chaos matches the words is absolutely genius but just as soon as everything comes to a peak, it all comes crashing down again. The waves of emotion and sound in this song are genius and made it an instant favorite of mine.
I have to be honest, “North Newhall” was an exhausting trip of a song (in the best way possible) so the slow down that “Hollow Structures” brought with it was a welcome change of pace. Although a small trumpet solo in this track caught me off guard, it fit perfectly and definitely became a standout moment on this entire album. Even when the whole band comes in after the beautiful trumpet part, there’s something somewhat subdued about this track that has an ability to just leave you with your thoughts which just adds to the power of this band, this album, and this track.
“Box For My Organs” was another instant favorite of mine from this great album. It was during this song that it hit me why I was so instantly in love with Barely Civil and this album. This album is an album written for the emo kid that never grew up. They take aspects of all of the things I loved about early 2000’s emo and amp it up a bit to make it less whiny and more real. From the lyrics to the song structure, just everything is a bit more adult while keeping with the angst and I loved that so much that I almost missed as the album moved onto “Fairmount” which instantly gave me strong Brand New vibes. Although each song is clearly Barely Civil, each song has certain influences that stick out and, lucky for me, all of those influences seem to be my typical go to’s.
I feel like I keep saying that every song was an instant favorite of mine and “The Worst Part of December” is no different. I love how there’s so much power in the instrumentation of this track while the vocals stay highly emotional and almost subdued yet somehow the vocals never fall out of the spotlight. I’m not quite sure how else to word this but it’s a phenomena that you just have to hear to really understand and I was still searching for the words as “I Woke Up Laughing” took over my speakers. Although this one sticks with the emotional theme heard throughout the previous songs, there’s something empowering about this one. The sweetness of the first couple of words is quickly replaced by a sense of rage before falling back down to a calmness. The waves of this song left me stunned and I had to listen to this one a few times before really moving onto the final track of this stunning album.
“…Forever” closes out ‘I’ll Figure This Out’ in the same fashion that the album kicked off with. A calm almost ambient type track, although there are plenty of moments of power and a sense of chaos that only Barely Civil can do, this is the perfect ending to this album and really just ties up all loose ends for the listener. As the track ended, I was left in silence in my house and just kind of sat there for a minute. I felt exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster that is ‘I’ll Figure This Out’ but also felt so grateful to have had this album come across my desk.
I’ll never deny my emo tendencies. I still love my time spent with bands like From First To Last and Brand New but it’s so refreshing to find a band like Barely Civil that takes all of the feelings I get from those early 2000’s bands and translates them into something a bit more modern and mature. Barely Civil is an instant new favorite of mine and, if you check them out, I’m sure they will become your new favorite as well.
My Favorite Track(s): “North Newhall”; “Box For My Organs”; “I Woke Up Laughing”
For Fans Of: Nostalgia; Never giving up your emo years; Highly emotional music that can either help you out on a good day or a bad one
Dance-ability: 6.1 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid in the sun on the floor; Autumn laid on the back of the couch
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 10 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 9.1 out of 10
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