This Providence – This Providence
Record Label: Fueled By Ramen
Release Date: September 12, 2006
Overall Score: 7.8
This Providence is the second Seattle-based FBR debut to come out this year, following the release of 2004’s Our World’s Divorce, which was a refreshing blend of technical pop-rock with a unique twist that was still distinctly This Providence. 2 years later, the distinction has faded with maturity, but the songwriting is still quite solid. This self-titled effort by This Providence finds the band taking elements from many other bands, including Gatsbys American Dream, whose style has been borrowed more over the past year than I borrowed Hardy Boys books from the library in 1993. While This Providence attempts to maintain their own sound on this release, it’s heavily influenced by not only Gatsbys but Panic! At the Disco, and a touch of Saves the Day. The final result is a decently entertaining album that is moderately unfulfilling, especially compared to the band’s previous work.
The first half of the record finds This Providence establishing their new sound in a fantastic way. “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” and “Secret Love and the Fastest Way to Happiness” are powerful, punchy, and incredibly catchy. Dan’s vocals are solid, the musicianship is more than adequate for a pop-rock band, and the songs are structured for big-time success. “Losing Control” is vintage This Providence, with thick, dancing bass lines and a terse, dark lead-in to an uplifting chorus. Bassist and backup vocalist Phil Cabrera’s voice is vastly improved from the band’s previous material, in fact the album would benefit from more alternating vocals as his clear, clean voice provides a great change of pace from Dan’s wavering, crying vocals. This song also makes an excellently placed reference back to Our World’s Divorce by revisiting lyrics from “Our Flag is White.” The first half of the record comes to a close with the electro-pop song “…But What Will They Say,” an entertaining dance number that more than borrows a few elements from The Faint.
While the second half of the album is solid, it’s ultimately disappointing. There is a good amount of filler in these later tracks, especially “Anything is Possible,” a song that sounds like it got cut from Our World’s Divorce, rehashed with a hint of Gatsbys, and tossed on this record. “The Road to Jericho…” is a sappy song built from acoustic guitar and hand-claps. Fun, but lacking in depth pretty much describes this song as well as its other acoustic partner in crime, “My Beautiful Rescue.” The album’s last two songs are “movements” that don’t really succeed at being artsy, although there is a very powerful and uplifting section in the first movement that redeems it. The second movement begins with such a blatant Gatsbys rip-off riff and an empty vocal filter that it never really recovers.
This Providence has written a record that is destined to lay the foundation for major commercial success. They took a lot of elements of what is hot right now and created a very good record that will probably win over a lot of fans, as well as please their old ones. Unfortunately, they lost some of their own style in the process, and that’s disappointing. When I listen to this record, I often don’t hear This Providence; I hear a bunch of other bands instead. Nonetheless, there are some fantastic tracks on this record, and if the first 6 songs were an EP I would be shouting praises from the rooftops. But the second half is about half good, half mediocre and doesn’t leave a good taste in one’s mouth. If This Providence can get through this transition time and define their own, individual sound again, it will benefit them. Until then, we have this very solid FBR debut to tide us over.
Great review. Although personally I like this CD much more than "Our Worlds Divorce".
I never really noticed how lacking the second half was until you pointed it out. I just figured I was getting sick of them as I listened through. "Losing Control" and "Wolf In Sheep's Clothing" are two of my favorite songs of this past year, though.
I think as a whole this album is pretty strong lyrically (although a bit more morbid than is my taste) and I might have addressed that. You handled the gatsby situation well =P