Alexisonfire – Watch Out

Watch Out

Having very limited experience with Canada’s Alexisonfire, I wasn’t particularly interested in hearing the band’s latest offering Watch Out. A while back after listening to a sample MP3 from the self-titled debut album, the band quickly received the all-too-familiar “same old shit” label and I ended my relationship with the band without exploring any further. Although the song wasn’t quite bad, it certainly didn’t break the skin. Needless to say I didn’t come into this album with the highest of expectations, but damn was I surprised.

Upon listening to Alexisonfire, it’s quickly obvious that the band shares more than just a similarity in name to BoySetsFire: they both have that passionate singing backed by intense screaming thing down pat, the guitar work cuts like a knife, and Alexisonfire vocalist Dallas Green’s style is a dead ringer for BSF’s Nathan Gray on more than a few occasions. However similar, the guys in Alexisonfire take things from there and run in a few different directions. I prefer Green’s singing over Gray for the most part, as he keeps the cheese factor a little lower, and the band also uses a multitude of harmonies and group “whoa”-ing reminiscent of AFI to keep things different. Serving only to sweeten the deal, the production value found here is incredible, definitely a headphone-wearing experience as full advantage is taken of those ever nifty stereo effects. All the instruments shine through perfectly as do the melodic vocals; however, I do find that George Pettit’s screams are a little overdone.

Sadly enough, there are a few flimsy songs to be found on this record; thankfully they’re handily outnumbered by some serious showstoppers. Things start off on the right foot with the album opener “Accidents.” The song starts off with edgy guitars and swiftly progresses to a breakneck volley of screaming and singing that offers up the perfect blend of both styles. Other strong tracks include “Side Walks When She Walks,” complete with a stirring, passionate, chorus, and “No Transitory,” setting itself apart with gripping harmonies and well-placed screams.

Things start to get murky for the three tracks following “No Transitory” though, hitting the absolute bottom with “White Devil.” The lyrics in this song about the revival of the cocaine trend are beyond reproach. Any attempt at a positive message was lost by the time I heard the line “Not so fun when your nose is sore / bloody Kleenex all over the floor.” To the band’s credit and to my great relief, the last two songs on the album are great. With “Get Fighted,” the band takes a jab at the weak state of the live music scene, and although it’s a well-tread subject, I still see a plethora of overdone hair and girly pants on guys at every show I attend. Cheers to Alexisonfire for fighting the good fight. They draw the album to a close as suberbly as they opened it with “Happiness by the Kilowatt,” a beautiful song that appears to be about dissatisfaction with the modern world.

I was truly blindsided by this album, and each subsequent listen squeezed out more and more to like about it. I could only find a handful of faults in the form of some weak lyrics and an overabundance of screaming from Pettit that lacked real impact a little too often. That said the emotion conveyed by Green is incredible, for which the rest of the band lays a lush yet forceful foundation. Alexisonfire has delivered a really solid album, and I can only hope that these guys will hone their potential for future releases. As it is, Watch Out has undoubtedly secured a spot in my playlist.