Fivespeed – Trade in Your Halo

Trade in Your Halo

Ah Fivespeed, you are a tricky band. You put out a CD on a relatively unknown indie label from your home state of Arizona. You press it with minimal but sharp looking dye-cut packaging. Fivespeed and I had a bright future together, the makings of a mutually beneficial relationship. The makings were there at least, well before I even heard the disc. Then I pop it in, and like the girlfriend who forgot my birthday, they completely let me down.
The first chord of the opener, “Smile, Lie,” gives them away for what they are. With most bands, there’s a little mystery to what they could bring, so that you don’t really know what you have until the fourth or fifth track. Not Fivespeed, however. This has the big nu-metal riffs, the strained “white boy pain” vocals, and the commercial “hardcore” sound. Not that this work is hardcore, but when written up it’s easy for mainstream critics to mislabel them. Trade in Your Halo would fit nice and snug in any collection between the Deftones and Hoobastank. For credibility’s sake, they add a dash of influence from bands like Quicksand, Far, and Errortype: 11.
You may not be a fan of the above-mentioned bands. And you may especially hate all nu-metal. But even if you hate a band like Korn and all their nu-metal cohorts, you must admit at least that they play their hearts out and hold nothing back. Fivespeed, however, can’t seem to muster enough energy to make a song inspired or interesting. So while being derivative is certainly a flaw, it can sometimes be considered endearing as a supreme act of flattery. However, being insipid and tiresome cannot be forgiven or overlooked.
The irony is that there is a lot of huffing and puffing on this album, but they never seem to be able to blow anything down. They even throw in tricks to capture attention, but to no avail. “Field Guide to a night Sky” starts interesting enough, then after about two minutes, they go to the bridge, change tempos and melody. The technical display, although skilled and competent, unfortunately adds nothing to the song, and the song drags on for another two and a half minutes. It would have been much more effective to end with a short and powerful song under three minutes than delve into modern rock guitar masturbation. There are several more cuts like this on the disc.
The big slick production is a detriment for this angry and loud music. A better route would have been to include a little bit of the grit and human element, not focusing on a “big” sound. The whole disc is the musical equivalent of being airbrushed. The good news is, Fivespeed have recently signed with Virgin Records. And these guys will fit right in to the world of corporate rock.