Thursday, December 4, 2008

War stories review

War Stories
War Stories

The bright tinkling of piano keys leads us into the opening track of the self-titled album from the Southern California-based War Stories, to be joined moments later by the rest of the ensemble. Upon the arrival of a heavily-distorted guitar tone partway through the song, we are greeted by a confident, optimistic pop/rock sound that the band carries through the entire album.

In fact, "confident" and "optimistic" are two qualities that permeate every aspect of this endeavor, including the lyrics. Even when the subject matter is not all roses, it’s always handled in a way that leaves us feeling inspired and strong. It’s never dark. It’s never desperate. And that’s what makes this album such a pleasure to listen to.

These lyrics are delivered to us by vocalist Evan. His regal-sounding croon is almost reminiscent of Morrissey at times, and does an exceptional job of giving their music a unique signature. His voice channels all of the passion and sincerity of the lyrics into a tangible form.

Their swirl of positive-sounding alternative rock is accompanied by near-constant synthesized keyboard tones in the background of the often clean guitar chord arpeggiations of guitarist Reid, which in more intense moments builds to heavily-distorted power chords. This variety of dynamic levels prevents the music from ever getting boring. Musical keys seem to be predominantly major, which lends to the bright sound that the band carries. Strategically-placed moments of chromaticism characterize the thought-provoking nature of the politically-conscious "What Does God See", a ballad in 6/8 time.

Thematic content ranges from social and political awareness to romance and sexual desire (and everything in between). I walk away from this album feeling inspired and encouraged. Sadly, not enough albums do this for me anymore. And for that reason, I regard this album highly.

Reviewed By: Brenton Brookings

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