Friday, May 25, 2012

Album Review: State Lines - State Lines EP

Album Rating: B+
Over the past few years I have acquired a somewhat bleak outlook when it comes to new music. I have grown to never expect anything out of my favorite artists, because often times, I fear that the music they have already put out will simply never be topped. Without hoping for a band to improve upon a release that is already “perfect” in my mind, then will be no reason to be bitterly disappointed if the newer work does not meet my overinflated expectations. New York’s State Lines, for example, released the shockingly mature Hoffman Manor last year, which made it hard to imagine how such a unique debut could be topped. Upon hearing word of the band’s signing to Tiny Engines and their plans for an upcoming self-titled EP, I proceeded warily, trying to ignore the ever-building hype train inside my head. The new EP, however, makes it apparent that State Lines have no intentions of slowing down, and certainly will not be shackled by the success of their full length. Though the EP is not quite the event that the cohesive Hoffman Manor was, the four new tracks carry just as much replay value and emotion as anything off the full length, giving plenty of reasons to be excited for State Lines’ future.

Sporting a rougher production and raspier vocal approach, State Lines start off the EP on an upbeat note with “5s on the Elephant,” which highlights Jonathan Dimitri and Tom Werring’s dual vocal approach. The track’s guitar work is noticeably more complex than on the band’s previous work, with bending lead lines reminiscent of the 90s emo sound popularized by bands such as Jawbreaker and contemporary acts like the UK’s Basement. “Plenty of Time” continues the trend and is the band’s edgiest offering yet, featuring a section with a fast punk beat and an overall sound much like early Saves the Day, chugging guitar riffs and mentions of “streetlights and stop signs” included. In contrast to the rest of the 7”, however, the second track takes on a somewhat somber tone and widens the EP’s range of emotion despite the omission of acoustic tracks like “Garvey” and “House” that were present on Hoffman Manor.

The ever-singable “Win Free” wraps up the EP at just over 11 minutes, but chances are the listener will be eager to start over from track one (again and again). Clever lines such as, “I’m cracking up, somewhere, someday, there’s a room with padded walls calling my name,” are a reminder of the band’s originality, and would keep anyone coming back for more. Overall, State Lines’ EP is a fun, easy listen that draws influences from many different genres and manages to carry a lot of meaning from song to song. The four tracks could possibly benefit from a clearer production, but they are not necessarily stifled by the rougher sound on the 7”. For a wholly enjoyable indie and emo influenced pop punk EP, look no further and expect to see State Lines’ name mentioned more and more often as the year progresses; this band is on to something big and by the looks of it, they know exactly what.

Pre-order the new record HERE (instant digital download!)
State Lines' Facebook

Track Listing:
1. 5s on the Elephant
2. Plenty of Time
3. Cave In
4. Win Free

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