You almost feel sorry for any emerging band sectioned in the emo/screamo/extremo/blah/blah/blah bracket. As with any particular 'scene', big record companies are taking full advantage at the moment, snapping up more-established smaller acts, or getting-in early to launch the 'next big thing' from scratch. Competition is fierce.
Story of the Year is definitely an example of the latter marketing strategy, and debut 'Page Avenue' is backed by considerable corporate clout. Produced by the Used supremo and Goldfinger frontman, John Feldman, and released on Warner subsidiary Maverick, the band has also toured with multi-multi-multi-million-selling giants Linkin Park recently.
The chances are that SOTY will have no problem filling the particularly big boots picked out for them. The 12 songs on offer are instantly accessible, all equipped with mind-engraving choruses. But the urgency to break into these anthemic bursts on songs such as 'In the Shadows' and 'Dive Right In' sounds a little contrived, formulaic, and disjointed.
Over-polished and synthetic production is a gripe throughout, especially on some of the lighter moments, undervaluing the brilliantly emo lyrical content of 'Swallow the Knife'. Those making comparisons with Finch or the Used are on to something, but in truth the intricacies, novelty and raw power are all depreciated.
Disparaging as this may sound, Page Avenue is a fair debut, which boasts enough quality, if only through its placating hooks and addictive taglines, to partially justify the hype, with opener 'And the Hero Will Drown', the hook-drenched 'Until the Day I Die' and 'Razorblades' all showing how polish can shine when properly applied.
Listen, sing along, hell just enjoy it. But don't expect this particular 'nbt' to be any bigger, better, or newer than contemporaries passed. How incredibly emo.
Writer: Tim Newbound