The Narrative - The Narrative
Release Date: July 27, 2010
Record Label: Unsigned
Sometimes, when I'm watching a movie, I'll know it's a good movie while I'm still watching it. I'll get a feeling sometime during the middle, where I'll think to myself, "Man, I really want this movie to go on for a lot longer. It's going to be disappointing when it ends." I've only ever really gotten that feeling a few times, but every time it's been during a movie that I consider one of my favorites of all time. I didn't get that feeling during Inception at all; the movie was simply so fantastic that it went by in two seconds and at the end, after watching that masterpiece, I had no words to describe it. At the end, my heart was racing and my extremities had fallen asleep - I was literally drained from it.
Now, I've never quite gotten that feeling while listening to music through my headphones or even through my fancy new stereo system, but I recently came close to it. A couple weeks ago when I first spun The Narrative's self-titled, full-length debut, I listened to the entire 53 minute pop rock opus without actually realizing how good it was. At the end, during the closing song, I sort of woke up and came to terms with what I had just heard, and many listens later I would like to contend that The Narrative have made the best record of its kind in 2010.
Dual vocalists Suzie Zeldin and Jesse Gabriel combine to make harmonies that give the New York three-piece instant accessibility. Fans of the group's 2008 EP, Just Say Yes, will be pleased to hear the maturity that The Narrative have gone through en route to producing the best male/female dual vocalist performance of the last few years. It's a sound that can be hard to get into right away, but The Narrative waste no time in lighting the torch with opener "Fade". Zeldin's voice is uncontrollably sweet in this track, and (thankfully) will draw no comparisons to Hayley Williams at all. The chorus shows that this band can definitely let loose and rock out, as they do at many points in this record.
The Narrative's depth is observed on "Cherry Red", as Gabriel makes this tracks his own and the group shows that no matter who takes the lead on a particular track, they can keep their instrumentation consistent and their style harmonious. "Empty Space" and "Winter's Coming" provide the highlight of the record in the form of an feverishly infectious one-two knockout. The chorus of "Empty Space" is phenomenal and leaves listeners wanting more even though they've already received plenty. The hook in "Winter's Coming" never gets old, as fans will take delight in singing "I am the sinner with a crooked smile / And you took to the rhythm of a no-good liar" back to Gabriel and Zeldin at live shows.
"Don't Want to Fall" is the first place where The Narrative take a step back and slow things down. This track, a piano-led ballad where Zeldin sends shivers down spines with her vocals, proves this band's ability to write more than just a catchy pop rock song. If the listener hadn't already figured that this record was a diamond in the rough sea of mediocre pop rock, this song should get the idea through. The Narrative, in their first full length, already present more of a variety than bands that have been together ten times as long as they.
While The Narrative aren't making strides here by trying out a completely original sound, they seem to be doing it better than most right now. "Starving for Attention" has a catchy guitar line before being accompanied by a playful doodle on the synthesizer; a format that has been done thousands of times before is approached with a breath of fresh air by this band. "End All" is another slower track, this time tackled by Zeldin and Gabriel together, and this song is one where their chemistry really shines.
The explosive "Hard to Keep Your Cool" leads into album closer "Turncoat", perhaps the strongest single track on The Narrative. The honest lyrics pace the track at first, but the indie pop instrumentation is soothing all the while. After a lengthy and enjoyable build up, The Narrative pull out all the stops with one minute remaining the in the record by turning out the most rocking excerpt they have written. The widespread talent shown in this song and on this record as a whole may be enough to make less competent bands throw in the towel from the beginning.
It's not very often that so many members on this website get behind a band, but The Narrative are a group which should inspire a movement of sorts. They're making breathtaking pop rock music in a time where most of the genre is absolutely worthless, and they should be recognized for it. If more records like The Narrative were written, I would most certainly have a different approach towards the genre. But I suppose the problem is that there aren't many bands as creative or talented as this one. The Narrative have without a doubt released the record of the year so far in this genre, and will surely be able to find fans wherever they find listeners.