Rating – 2.5./5
Silverstein revisits a lot of old ideas in their latest album release; staying loyal to their post-hardcore roots with a sprinkling of collaborative artists to bring them up to date in 2020. As the group prepares to celebrate their 20th anniversary, ‘A Beautiful Place to Drown’ doesn’t really reinvent Silverstein’s identity; the maxim is evolution, not revolution.
Tracks such as ‘Infinite’ and ‘ShapeShift’ are neatly introduced with the use of sampling and echo-y synth patterns. In fact, there are a few occasions where the group decided to introduce these more ambient sections throughout the record; it’s reminiscent of a Bring Me The Horizon with ‘That’s the Spirit’. Then again that was five years ago now, and even back then it got old quite quickly.
There’s somewhat of a bizarre tonal shift upon reaching ‘Say Yes!’ (exclamation point included in the title to convey enthusiasm!), which is just a straight-up Jonas Brothers’, radio rock fodder bop. It seems kind of out of place, but then again a few things seem out of place on this album. Hey, speaking of jarring tonal shifts, the sax solo on ‘All On Me’ is groovy and I’m sure the autotuned vocals that bleed in and out were obviously a creative decision; maybe the sax player from Hoobastank should come out of retirement, he was ahead of his time.
The record does subvert expectations (in a good way) on ‘Madness’; when you see a featured hip hop artist there’s always the risk that you’ll end up with a much-maligned rap-metal effort that really is a compromise that suits no one. However, Princess Nokia’s accompaniment is a low, menacing addition that complements the lead vocals; a really nice example of less is more on this track.
Similarly, there’s a slinky, bluesy breakdown on ‘Stop’ that mixes nicely with the guttural vocals and crashing cymbals; it’s like Jimmy Page detuned his guitar and started jamming along at a hardcore rehearsal.
So, do all these minor additions make more than the sum of their parts? Well, not really. It seems like the group tried to spread themselves too thin on this album; the tracklist can be jarring at times. Whilst it’s admirable the band has tried their hands at a few different styles, it’s too little and too sporadic. Ed Sheeran might go to number one when he releases an album with about twenty different collaborative artists spanning the genres, but ultimately what you’re left with is somewhat of a watered-down effort.
To round things off Simple Plan bring their usual syrupy, marshmallowy brand of radio-friendly pop-rock to the table; ‘Take What You Give’ is a jaunty, clean bop in the vein of ‘Say Yes!’, but sadly it does little in the way to create a cohesive listening experience.
Granted, the group hasn’t really made the same style of record that has defined their musical careers, but then again they haven’t really made a new one either. Perhaps revolution is something Silverstein should consider in the near future, especially if they have another twenty years of playing left in them.
Review by Theo Wildgoose