Saturday, 21 March 2009

Review - This Providence - Who Are You Now?

This Providence - Who Are You Now?

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7 out of 10

Who Are You Now? is the third record released by This Providence and their second on Fueled by Ramen. This Providence aim to create intelligent, indie-rock and to some extent they succeed. The album is a departure from their usual sound but only serves to highlight the maturity the band has achieved after years of touring, line-up changes and recording. Recruiting much-praised producer Matt Squire was an inspired move, and the album really shines on this front. Songs that may have felt slightly 'shallow' are given extra depth with layered guitars and atmospheric keys. Despite this, the album is actually rather disappointing and a lot of this is down to the lyrics, which at times seem like teenage journal entries, and at others, unlistenably cringeworthy.

The album highlights this on the first track, the brooding Sure as Hell. The reverb heavy guitar track invites comparisons to the Brand New track Tautou, but as soon as the lyrics start, the tone is set for the album. This is an album about a girl, "As long as there is a god in heaven/I'll still want you back", rather unsubtly gets this message across. The first single, Letdown, is actually a standout track, but again is letdown (sorry) somewhat by some bland lyrics. The song is actually a good example of the best and worst parts of this album, it highlights the bands undoubted ability to create an interesting and slightly unique track, yet also the bands rather less desirable knack for writing cheesy lyrics: "I've got those lovesick blues/I feel it more than ever".

Fans of the band will notice that My Beautiful Rescue makes its second appearance on a This Providence album, this time as a full band track rather than an acoustic song. Unfortunately, this actually detracts from the song, and most people, I suspect, will prefer the older version. Not to sound like a broken record, but it is again the lyrics that let it down. While holding an acoustic guitar gives you licence to be slightly over romantic, when using the full band, lyrics such as "I'm falling more in love/ With every single word you say" work less well, and This Providence end up sounding like they went to the Relient K school of lyrics and failed most of the classes.

But to focus on some positives, despite the lyrics, the singer has an outstanding voice. Sounding like a cross between Ace Enders (The Early November) and Antony Green (Saosin/Circa Survive), the voice is deservedly given centre stage and allowed to shine. This Providence have also successfully created a sound that is distinctly their own, comparisons can be drawn to bands like Copeland and Forgive Durden, but I would have no trouble picking a This Providence track out of a musical lineup and this is a huge compliment. There are far too many interchangeable bands these days, and This Providence deserve praise for creating an album that truly represents who they are. From the dancey Squeaking Wheels and White Lights to the obligatory acoustic track Sand in Your Shoes, This Providence manage to fuse together different sounding tracks into a cohesive whole, something many albums fail to do despite the huge misfire that album closer, Somebody to Talk to, is.

That being said, this is still a solid album, it just had the potential to be better. Musically the album is a success, the guitar work is solid and the rhythm section is faultless, and if the lyrics have matched this, the album would have been receiving a very high score. Unfortunately this is not the case, and the score has to be lowered because of that. Tracks become remembered not for the good parts, but for a particularly bad lyric and this is the true crime of the album. When This Providence ask Who Are You Now? I hope that they find out for the album next album, because they are so close to being great.


1. Sure as Hell
2. Letdown
3. Waste Myself
4. This is the Real Thing
5. Keeping on Without You
6. Squeaking Wheels and White Lights (dancey track)
7. My Beautiful Rescue (Renovated)
8. That Girl's a Trick
9. Selfish
10. Chasing the Wind
11. Playing the Villain
12. Sand in Your Shoes
13. Someone to Talk to

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