There are bands that you can't help but cheer for; you hope they do well and with every release you wish to support them. Abandon Kansas seems to be a band that carries that sentiment with fans and indie-music bystanders. After AK signed with Bad Christian, this reviewer couldn't help but be intrigued at the possibility of what alligator may hold.
The album opens with the dark "Mirror;" for most of the track, the music is subtle with lead singer Jeremy Spring's vocals carrying the song with an ethereal melody. However, at the halfway point, the song evolves into a more post-hardcore sound. While I think the song is truly a gem, it doesn't set the tone for the album very well. This is followed by the title track, "alligator." The music is smooth yet gritty and the vocals have a less aggressive sound from the opening track yet still reach a rich climax; this really is a sweet spot for the band and showcases their style very well. Thankfully, this same sound is captured on tracks like "Baby Please," "Get Clean," "Shadows," and "You Oughta Know."
"I Hope God Don't Mind If We Talk Awhiles" is perhaps the most interesting track on the album. It features some beautifully layered guitars and a nonconventional melody that favors slam poetry over a rock song that covers topics like religion, relationships, anger, pregnancy, etc. It's a potluck of emotion, and it makes for a very intriguing experience.
Without a doubt, the real instrument that the band showcases is Spring's vocals; he has an impressive range with flawless wails and a lamenting tone that could easily move a hard heart to tears. That being said, "What You Meant" is the most honest and thought-provoking track that the album gives to listeners, as it is a cry from a son to a father. The most heart-wrenching line is "You'll always be my father, now you'll be my friend. I'll follow in your footsteps, until the sidewalk ends… and I will show my children, they'll know how much you meant." It's a clear picture of a man who wasn't perfect but deeply loved.
Truth be told, this album isn't for the casual listener; if you're looking for sweet radio songs or additions to a shuffled playlist, you will be sorely disappointed. This is more like a composition with multiple movements; it must be consumed in its entirety. And no it's not for the faint of heart, there is some moderate language scattered sparsely through the album that some listeners may be offended by - however, for this reviewer, it seems to be in context and not meant to be crude. Needless to say, this isn't a faultless album. There are some lackluster moments, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. So for that reason, it wouldn't hurt for folks to give this album a chance.- Review date: 5/11/15, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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