3 July 2014

Days Of The New - Days Of The New II

Now I can safely say I have not thought about this band in an awfully long time, but thanks to the legend that is Barry Wilson they are back on my radar. This is the second album by post grunge act Days Of The New.  Following on from the first self titled album, this album was created after front man Travis Meeks had fired the original line up following the age old "band differences".  Whilst the album was not as commercially successful as the first album, it was released to great critical acclaim.  The style of the album is more acoustically driven than their debut and it also has backing vocals from Ms Nicole Scherzinger who ended up in Pussycat Dolls and dating Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (strange things you learn from the interlink).  However, in 1999 the grunge bubble was long gone and nu-metal was in vogue when it was unleashed on the public, but has it aged better than some of the popular albums of the time?

Starting with "Flight Response" you have the sounds of horse running and the slow intro of the acoustic guitar, it just keeps building piece by piece.  With much more depth than some of the bands that followed in their wake (Stand - we are looking directly at you), this is incredibly emotional, bleak and dramatically dark as well.  From the beginning this is not an album for those happy days, and the mood is continued with "The Real".  Opening with a strange off-key breakdown after an acoustic strumming, you get another slice of Meeks' soul for the world to bear.  It is not as engaging as "Flight Response", but it is still a decent number; the song then merges into "The Enemy" which was one of the singles released from the album.  The mixture of pulsing bass and acoustic guitar is brilliant, the lyrics about facing a person who is trying to make someone their enemy are interesting; the sound of the song is much better than the first two, but something is still missing from this for me.  Things get a lot better with "Weapon & The Wound".  With a haunting wood instrument opening and cryptic lyrics, I cannot sell this song too short.  This is the one of the most interesting songs from the 90's that I have heard in a long time.

"Skeleton Key" is a strange and intoxicating instrumental, very percussion based and sounds like the stuff of nightmares.  It is again another step in the right direction for this album, with each number being a distinct change from the previous song.  "Take Me Back Then" follows on with a return to the more traditional version of the band here; this is a massive slice of self loathing and inner hatred that whilst being by the numbers lyrically is none the less interesting.  "Bring Yourself" begins with Ms Scherzinger opening with an series of notes that sound like a call to pray; her vocal backing through the album mix well with Mr Meeks and I still think she would have been better used away from her pop career (although she is a strange creature to see in interviews).  I find this song to be incredible relaxing, but something is almost too familiar about this song.  But I cannot find myself disliking it, just that it is strangely recognisable when I have not heard it before I started this review.  "I Think" brings back the strange bass line again, this is very much in the style of later day Alice In Chains and this is a very good thing.  There is a swagger about this song, just a confidence that is very evident about the whole record so far.  Next is "Longfellow" which is an instrumental that could have been left off the album to be honest.  It is too short to go anywhere for the listener and should have been left for another album where it would have probably grown.

"Intro" is next and again it is another weird and pointless number that should have been left off the album.  It might be harking toward some of Zappa's more out there parts of his Jazz Fusion numbers, but it is just wrong here - more wrong that a Conservative Government in the UK. "Phobics Of Tragedy" is a return to the earlier form of the album, it has that simple but infectious. It may be a bit of a rehash of an earlier theme but that is not a problem when it is played well.  "Not The Same" brings the Alice In Chains feeling is back with full force.  It is a strong and powerful feeling, but it is still a great number.  Mr Meeks does not the full range of any of the vocalists from AIC, but his voice and playing is in fine flow on this number.  "Provider" focuses on the more acoustic side of the album; out of the real song on here it is the one which drags the most.  It feels like a moment too far and whilst I would not be negative about the playing I would say that the choice of including it on the album; even with the crazy middle bridge. Ending the album is "Last One" ends the album on a familiar number.  Maybe the album has gone on too long, but despite the quality of the performance it does not end the album on the high that would have ended this album perfectly.

Overall I have to say this album is really enjoyable for the most part.  I love some of the themes of this album and they would have been perfect if it was for a few things - cutting down the length of some of the songs and actually dropping off a few of the numbers as the is a "Much of a much-ness" about some of the numbers.  It is a very decent album and if you’re looking for the album that Alice In Chains never made then this may be for you.  On a personal note, as much as I have enjoyed the album it is too flawed to be a classic; it is just like Paw with their album 'Dragline'.  It was good, but not quite good enough.

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

Top Track - Weapon & The Wound

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