Mico – Standing Inside a Shadow

Standing Inside a Shadow

One of the most important elements of Mico’s Standing Inside a Shadow is singer Jon Stewart’s vocals. There is nothing unique nor extraordinary about his style, but it has a nice tone to it and really makes the listener feel comfortable with the sound. More importantly, his soul is truly invested in these songs. His impassioned voice provides the backbone to this record. This is important starting about halfway through the release because this sound begins to change.
“Section One,” the album opener, is really nice mix of Sunny Day Real Estate melody and the aggressiveness of early Face to Face. This song exemplifies the sound of the first few numbers on the album – melodic, straightforward, and energetic. Chunky guitar riffs trade places back and forth with impassioned feedback and melodic structure.
Things begin to change about halfway through the release. There are three songs that exemplify this change. “Casual Handshake” is one of the best songs on the record. Everything is a bit more layered, and the parts are more intricate. One is reminded of one of the gems off of Jawbreaker’s great Dear You album. “18.12.79” takes things even further with some light picking on the guitar that helps create a melancholy mood. The delicate instrumentation then erupts full force into some excellent melodic riffs that bring the emotion to the center. “Found in Your Possession” uses a familiar mid-paced emo pace but doesn’t sound whiny or depressing. Instead, the band uses the familiar sound to entice the listener and then changes things up with their glowing energy.
The melody of the songs is one thing that sets Mico apart from the rest of the pack. Nothing feels forced or thrown together. There are no trendy or typical riffs here. In their best numbers, the band sticks to its own thing. The emotion of the vocals fits the pace of each song to the T, leaving the listener in a nice place. One gets a feeling of a nice and homey atmosphere when listening to the record.
The music seems to get better and better throughout the release as well. The structure of the songs is complex without going too overboard. One can listen to the record and pick apart their influences at times, but in their more progressive numbers, like “18.12.79,” they come up with their own perspective on things that really grows on the listener’s ears.
Although the first few songs on the album are nice, the middle and later numbers feature elements where things get really interesting. It seems as if this CD could have nearly been two different releases. It’s almost as if there is a war going on in terms of sound. At times, the earlier songs on the release are borderline predictable. As they experiment with their sound they step beyond this predictability. This shows the territory that Mico has their roots planted in (Dag Nasty, Face to Face), but then they slowly move into the new and more elaborate path that they are on the road towards.