By Cody Mello-Klein
As the swirling echoes of twin guitars and the dreamy sounds of a keyboard spin and whirl inside my ears I feel as though I have been here forever. I am drifting through the cosmos in a time before time. Then a monstrous percussive boom and an explosion of echo-laden guitars interrupt my dream state suddenly and unexpectedly. The world has just been created.
This whole story is told in only the first track of Austin indie rockers Again For the Win’s debut album. After this affecting track I expected the band to drift through time and space or at least human history, following the creation of a world and a people. However, the band quickly throws this idea out the window, as they quickly jump from that magnificent opening track (“Merkabah”) into straight-forward mainstream rock songs. Songs like “The Legend Of” and “Having Heard Siren” could easily fit in with songs by My Chemical Romance and 30 Seconds to Mars.
However, that is not to say that this album does not provide some decent amount of ear candy, for while many of these songs seem on the surface to be straight-forward rockers, taking a closer listen will reveal something else. The lack of perfectly clean production, which would be found on the aforementioned bands’ albums, is absent here, allowing for some interesting guitar sounds and keyboard sounds to pop up here and there. The progressions of some of these songs are also at times quite interesting, as the spacey jam on “Breaking/ Entering” showcases the band’s ability to play off of one another. Unfortunately, the lo-fi production also hurts the album to an extent, as echoes tend to overpower the bass and vocals on many tracks.
These echoes and shrieks cannot save this album from the sheer lack of variation present here. After about the fourth or fifth song I knew what to expect from these guys; I had nailed down their act. Start off with a short, spacey intro, kick off with a blast of all the instruments, rock out, slow down a bit, and then finish off with a blast. That’s not to say that this formula isn’t effective at times–it certainly can be–but after a while it loses its effect. The fact that the band has two vocalists (Carter Francis and Bobby Martinez) that both sound pretty similar also squandered a chance to keep the album feeling fresh.
However, I can’t fault the band too much. They do try to change things up with an acoustic number (“Aspirations”) but it too short and too late in the album to really be effective.
For an album that really grabbed my ears and expressed potential, We’ve Been Here Forever quickly let me down with its onslaught of formulaic but subtly interesting rock songs. Yet there is clearly potential here for sonic expansion and lyrical or narrative experimentation. Again For the Win has not lost my interest but this album most certainly has.