Review : Conditions - Fluorescent Youth
AbsolutepunkOn Fluorescent Youth, Conditions sound like a baby’s first Saosin, rocking a brighter, thinner version of the popular scene rock sonic. Sometimes, their songwriting falls through, like in “…Made Ghosts,” where they rhyme “too late” with, well, “too late” in a chorus that desperately begs for more creative lyrics. There are also a couple of occasions where it seems like they’re just discovering guitar distortion for the first time – ie. the opening seconds of “Natural Competition” come across as excessively cheesy. It’s not necessarily something you’d want to be caught listening to if you’re not 13 or under.
Yet Conditions find a potent saving grace in a factor their niche of music is desperately craving: positivity. From beginning to end, Fluorescent Youth is designed to invigorate the generation with a new mentality, one that steers clear of the selfish “you failed me, I hate you” motifs of the emo movement. “When you fall, when you break, when you wish you didn’t feel, keep your head, don’t forget it’s the pain that keeps us real,” wails Brandon Roundtree in “Better Life.” How many bands of similar ilk can you find pushing a moral like that? Zero, I’m willing to bet.
“When It Won’t Save You,” likely the album’s crowning achievement, battles destructive consumerism mentalities: “Cars won’t save, cash won’t transcend the grave,” it says before declaring, “I call everyone I know the only things of value I could ever own.” “Make Them Remember” asks “how will you make them remember your name, when everyone here seems exactly the same?” somewhat ironically considering the generic chorus it’s sung over, but “Miss America” proves that it’s ultimately the message that matters, snarling at shallow conceptions of beauty and love with scathing conviction....full text
Reviewrinserepeat"How will you make them remember your name / when everyone here seems exactly the same / there's so much to give up / don't just throw it away / so go on and make them remember your name”
Music is supposed to mean something. To fans, it isn't a "business" - it's a feeling, a moment, a memory. In recent years, sincerity - genuine sincerity - has been largely missing in rock music. So many artists have something to "give up" - talent that's begging to used - and they just throw it away. Too many artists do little to differentiate themselves from others, merely sounding the same. That's where Virginia-based quintet Conditions come into play. With a polished arena-rock sound à la Saosin and spirit, harnessed by their lyrical depth and acumen, comparable to Anberlin, the young band don’t throw any of the budding talent boasted on their moderately successful duo of previous EPs. At a hurdle during which many bands falter, Conditions have with Fluorescent Youth bloomed, embracing the art of the full-length, and creating an album that is captivating, intelligent, and accessible.
Strong-willed and turbulent opener “The End Of Progression” launches Fluorescent Youth into full flight in domineering fashion, broadcasting a call to arms that outlines the band's intent, with frontman Brandon Roundtree roaring “[when] you play it safe you end progression”. And Conditions stay true to their word, as the band, for the majority of their debut outing, don't play it safe. With producer Paul Leavitt at the helm, Conditions radiate a clean radio-friendly sound, but that doesn’t compromise the band’s sincerity, and it definitely doesn’t mean they don’t play hard. Lead single “Better Life” is an uplifting and addictive song, with its gripping clean vocals, thunderous riffs, and insightful lyrics. Indeed, one of the album’s defining characteristics is that every lyric appears as calculated, passionate, and meaningful as the next. “Natural Competition” and “When It Won’t Save You” exemplify the band’s refusal to resort to clichéd topics, with the latter portraying the band’s wisdom when Roundtree addresses the insignificance of material possessions, declaring; “I can’t chase the American dream / trading life for money never made much sense to me,” and later philosophizing; “Kings of diamonds / King of hearts / one dies loved / and one is dead from the very start”. The lyric-quoting could continue. Standout track “Make Them Remember” is as heartfelt as it gets, while retaining an unprecedented aura of intensity, with an electrifying and monstrous chorus being led by a mesmerizing vocal display and sincere lyrics. Once again, the band’s positivity prevails, as the second verse professes; “when the world seems to go wrong / the day that you feel like you don’t belong / keep in mind life’s just a song / a song without words / waiting for you to sing along”. Simply put, if this song doesn’t get Conditions' name remembered, nothing ever will....full text
RockfreaksConditions are a five-piece band based in Richmond, VA, featuring members of Scarlet, Motion Picture Demise and FIAD. They already have two releases under their belt, "You Are Forgotten" and a self-titled EP, and, while still unsigned, supported the likes of Paramore, New Found Glory and Good Charlotte.
Phew. Now that's out of the way, I can get to the good stuff: the music. "Fluorescent Youth" is the sophmore full-length of Conditions, and, if you're a fan of acts like Secret And Whisper, Anberlin, perhaps even Saosin, I'd keep reading, as there will no doubt be something for you. Yes, it's of the post-hardcore/alternative sound, so no prizes for guessing what makes it tick. Fast guitar-playing, powerful drumming and a highly impressive vocalist by the name of Brandon Roundtree who constantly demonstrates a wonderful range and delivers choruses that sound utterly anthemic with a youthful urgency and passion that's hard not to love.
For a band that immediately states their intent with the opening song titled "The End of Progression", as they preach "[when] You play it safe, you end progression", there isn't a great degree of ambition as they play it relatively safe for the first half of the album in particular. However, in the very next song, "Better Life", they then claim "Forget what you believe, use what you know". And boy, do they know what works well for them. Despite my slight nit-picking, both songs set the tone for the rest of the album very well - "The End..." being full of adrenaline, as you'd expect from the first song, and "Better Life" being as close to "radio-friendly" as Conditions get. "Natural Competition" is brought to you courtesy of some of the finest work by guitarists Jason Marshall and Alex Howard on offer here - and it's damn fine throughout - while "Keeping Pace With Planes", re-recorded since their last EP, is another notable moment....full text
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