Standstill – Memories Collector

Standstill
Memories Collector

Ack – although not an actual adjective, let alone a word, it was my first reaction to hearing Standstill’s third full-length release, Memories Collector. From Barcelona, Spain, Standstill have been playing a mix of indie rock and post-hardcore for eight years. They’ve garnered a huge following in Spain, and their full-length debut, The Ionic Spell, was awarded “Best Spanish Album of the Year” by Rock Sound and Mondo Sonoro. They’ve also toured Europe with influential bands like Shelter, At the Drive-In, and Cave In. With Standstill’s impressive credits, I was expecting a powerful and provocative album. But unfortunately, Memories Collector fell short of my expectations.
Standstill’s music has a unique flare to it, combining samplers and keyboards with the rage and intensity of hardcore. They are clearly influenced by bands like Refused and Thursday, yet they do not duplicate them. Likewise, vocalist Enric has a strangely haunting, yet soft and appealing voice. He is comparable to Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria, but with less of a falsetto and more gruffness. Despite the band’s talent for music and vocals, the combination of the two is what caused my aforementioned “ack.” The music and vocals simply do not match. The orchestrations are either too loud – blocking out Enric – or too quiet, causing the album to sound flat and lacking power. As a result, the point of the album is missed. Maybe Standstill realized this, putting a note on the back of the album’s insert: “For a better understanding of Memories Collector and what we try to transmit please look at the text and the images included on the CD-ROM.” Well, I checked out the extra material and I can tell you that I am no less confused than I was before.
Memories Collector is a disappointment. Finding a balance between vocals and music and making sure the two match is one of the most important aspects of a band, obviously. Then how could a band with such an impressive track record and so much potential create an album lacking in both meaning and cohesiveness? I wanted to like Memories Collector; I listened to the album numerous times over several days, hoping it would grow on me, but it was no use. Something is missing on the album, whether it’s the mismatched vocals and music or the too deeply hidden meaning, Memories Collector does not live up to the hype.
One thing, however, is noteworthy. Standstill are native Spanish-speakers, yet their lyrics are entirely in English, not an easy feat when it’s your second language. French is my second language, I’ve spoken it since I was 3 years old, but ask me to write an entire album only in French and you would get a mass of gibberish. So points and applause to Standstill for challenging themselves. Now if only they would mix their album just a little better and be a tad more obvious with their message, then fans would be lining up across North America, myself included.