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By Joe Goncalves
This album’s introductory track’s chorus and titular line says “I just want to be free.” This is fitting as throughout the entirety of listening to this album I told myself that I just wanted to be free of the monotony of this record.
Tonight Alive made a very ambitious move with this new record, one where it’s hard to even classify them in the same genre as their past albums. Unfortunately, this is bound to disappoint old fans and keep new fans from finding them.
The problems with this album lie not in the change in direction the band chose to take. Every band has to change and evolve their sound in some way, and no artist wants to be the same one trick pony. The issue with this album was simply the lack of variety within the album and within the majority of the songs. When you listen to an album, if done well, it should take the listener along an arch, and take them on a journey with the artist, experiencing highs and lows, and peaks and valleys. The journey Tonight Alive brings the listener on was more akin to a drive through a barren desert while 20 miles under the speed limit.
The ambition was there on the part of the band to branch out and find a new sound, and it is drastically different from their old material. Credit should be given to any artist taking such a massive leap in a different musical direction, however, this was not executed nearly well enough to make its mark.
This same issue of repetitiveness comes within each song as well. Most songs on the album have almost the same exact structure, with the only exceptions really being “I Defy” and “The Greatest.” The lyrics on this album also hindered the experience significantly. Every song has an escapist message in it’s lyrics, and while that in itself is perfectly fine, after hearing several songs that are essentially saying the same thing, you start to lose your listeners. It becomes genuinely difficult to pay attention after some time, and after the record finishes there’s not much that sticks with you.
The album did have it’s strong points however, and there were new elements of “Limitless” that did work very well. The production quality has definitely increased on this album, and in particular the drums and various percussion on this album sounded wonderful. Many songs on “Limitless” also added layers of keys and orchestrated sections that sounded wonderful, especially for the direction they seem to be headed in. Front woman Jenna McDougall sounds as great as she ever has, and gives a solid vocal performance throughout. Unfortunately this could not carry this records many shortcomings.
All in all this album suffers not from ambition or intent, but from poor execution. Maybe given time Tonight Alive will have honed their craft in this new direction they’re heading. There is certainly still a promising future for the band, and we certain haven’t heard the last of the group.