Woke Up Falling – S/T

This one kicks you in the gut from the get-go. No nice melodic intro here, just ‘bam’ and you’re into the music, which is a very fresh way to start an album. Portland, Oregon’s Woke Up Falling means business this time around. After releasing a full-length album and an EP in nearly five years of making music, these artists give the impression on the latest, self-titled effort that all holds have been pulled away, all barriers dropped, and these guys mean business.

I’m not sure what exactly about this album hits me harder and more emphatically than on the band’s debut or follow-up EP, but there’s no doubt that there’s more energy and intensity here. The guitars are powerful and intricate, the rhythm even more so, and Gordie Muscutt’s amazing vocals soar and swoon and scream their way along. The emo keyword will probably still apply here, but this is not your older brother’s Sunny Day, as Woke Up Falling has a more aggressive, more soaring quality.

On the aforementioned opening track, “Fake Your Death,” the band is at its most aggressive, the vocals ripping into screams and almost-screams at all the right moments, and the guitars rivaling the vocals for prominence. The cello – apparently the de facto instrument for every emo band these days – comes in here beautifully. There’s no letting up, as “Fight Song” is even more aggressive, mixing edgy guitars with melodic guitar lines, and “In Silence” showcases even more edgy guitars, with Muscutt’s vocals always on the edge of a scream.

The most emotional track is “Circle a Date to End This War.” “Why can’t you see this is killing me,” Muscutt repeats in the climactic chorus. Think Penfold, perhaps, on the more cathartic “Never Been Here.” The powerful, driving chords and rhythm on “It’s All Memories” impresses me on every listen. Even more powerful is “Jokes on Us,” filled with in-your-face chords and rhythm and Muscutt belting out the lyrics. And those who like the Cure similarities to Muscutt’s voice should check out the very slick “Here’s Your Pretty.” I’d like to hear more of this mid-paced style as well!

I called Woke Up Falling’s first album cold, an effect mostly brought by Muscutt’s oddly enthralling voice that’s been compared many times to the Cure’s Robert Smith fronting a post-hardcore band. It’s still relevant, but on this album, his voice is so much more intense, and it’s not allowed to dominate the other instruments, instead mixing nicely with the edgy guitars and stellar percussion. This is definitely the band’s best moment yet, the album the others have hinted at, and those who like music powerful and emotional should definitely enjoy it.