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Looking For Alaska - There Is Hope Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 6
Musicianship 7
Lyrics 6.5
Production 8
Creativity 7
Lasting Value 7
Reviewer Tilt 7.5
Final Verdict: 70%
Member Ratings
Vocals 5.13
Musicianship 5.13
Lyrics 5.13
Production 5.13
Creativity 5.13
Lasting Value 5.13
Reviewer Tilt 5.13
Average: 51%
Inside AP.net

Looking For Alaska - There Is Hope

Reviewed by: Sean Rizzo (10/22/11)
Looking For Alaska - There Is Hope
Record Label: Smith Seven
Release Date: October 22, 2011

In an increasingly formulaic songwriting environment down to the melody, pop-rock bands that are honest about their love for the genre are more challenged to individuate themselves than ever, with derivative profit-driven rivals popping up everywhere to ride the fad wave and make a quick buck along the way. In fact, this genre, as have other genres, has become so derivative from the pioneers and mainstays of the last decade that a distinctive portion of pop-rock fans have become a microcosmic duplicate of the top 40 world, taking whatever they're familiar with and nothing else. The honest and naturally innovative bands are left to decide between two fundamentally opposing directions: cast aside their individualistic aberrations from the traditional formula in order to pander to the fanbase, or alienate themselves from the genre they love in order to preserve that individuality. It's quite a rock and a hard place to be stuck between, and it's something Looking For Alaska has inevitably had to deal with while writing their new album, There Is Hope.

Generally speaking, Looking For Alaska follow the first of the two paths mentioned earlier (as you can likely tell based on my RIYL), but that is not without a good deal of defiance as they do everything they possibly can to keep their songwriting unique. As have other more established artists in their vein, they have chosen to reassemble old techniques in a newer way, while still incorporating a few individual distinctions. Looking For Alaska have a particularly strong folk influence present in a couple of acoustic ballads often stereotyped in the genre, but they are written and performed exceptionally well. One of them is the opener, "Bloody Hands", which contains enough emotion and atmospheric guitar work that it would find a welcome home in another review of mine. From here on we are steered back onto the common path, with songs like "Seasons", "Love Wins", "All Who Are Weary", and "Among Us, You Are All Equal" following the straightforward vocals and/or familiar guitar stylings of Mae and Anberlin. Fortunately, there are also the aspects which diverge. Looking For Alaska have incorporated a gently ambient mathiness into the guitar work of There Is Hope in Six Gallery-esque fashion, in tracks like "Woes of Friendship", "Frankie Mae", and "A Failure In Logic". These jazzy lullaby sections are enough to soothe even the most critically-minded, masterfully opening the way for the percussion to carry the listener away in its steadfastness.

The exclusively vocal components seem to be the only aspects that have the most trouble etching out their own personality or being unique to any extent. The vocal techniques have all been seen many times before. The vocal songwriting comes off as monotone, all the while seeming strained to an uncomfortably unnatural extent. Their single redeeming quality is that despite all of the vocal flaws, some strong emotion is undoubtedly present in each track, making up quite a lot of lost ground. The lyrics of There Is Hope contain the expected and typified spiritual lyrics, personal and plainly stated but not profound or poetic.

There Is Hope is a fairly good offering from an equally good band. I sense that Looking For Alaska may never emerge from the established and over-influencing sounds of their predecessors and are capable of more and better, but as long as that's what they love doing then I can't fault them for it. Their contribution to pop-rock should not be ignored based on that alone, as they have chosen to personalize and redecorate the musical home that houses and has housed so many others.

Recommended If You LikeMae, Six Gallery, I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business, Anberlin, Beta State, Over the Ocean, hints of Circa Survive

External LinksBandcamp, Facebook
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 15.
08:52 PM on 10/22/11
#2
DJWildefire
On the verge of breathtaking
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I hear Minus the Bear in parts.
09:05 PM on 10/23/11
#3
Ryan Gardner
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Nice review - agree with it. Record is definitely worth checking out, everyone
10:34 PM on 10/23/11
#4
TheSkyline
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Thanks for the review man! Anyone who is interested, you can buy the album here- http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the...pe/id472525499
01:53 AM on 10/24/11
#5
Burn_Burn_Burn
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Thanks for the review man! Anyone who is interested, you can buy the album here- http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the...pe/id472525499
Did you get your name from the book by John Green?

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0142402516/absolutepunk-20/ r=8-1
05:06 AM on 10/24/11
#6
TheSkyline
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Yes we did, the book inspired the name, we love John Green!
06:45 AM on 10/24/11
#7
xJesusFreakx
duh please
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Not gonna lie, the fact that I clicked the Bandcamp link and ended up on a song called "Love Wins" is kinda hurting the band for me. Dang Rob Bell (or at least that's what I'm assuming it's referencing; I'll be relieved if I find that isn't the case).
07:25 AM on 10/24/11
#8
JulieLauber
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Incredible album.
07:37 AM on 10/24/11
#9
TheSkyline
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Not gonna lie, the fact that I clicked the Bandcamp link and ended up on a song called "Love Wins" is kinda hurting the band for me. Dang Rob Bell (or at least that's what I'm assuming it's referencing; I'll be relieved if I find that isn't the case).
The song isn't about that, but the name of it is from the book. Our singer likes Rob Bell. I know it's a controversial book but I haven't read it, so I don't really have any opinion on it, haha.
07:47 AM on 10/24/11
xJesusFreakx
duh please
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The song isn't about that, but the name of it is from the book. Our singer likes Rob Bell. I know it's a controversial book but I haven't read it, so I don't really have any opinion on it, haha.
Ha, fair enough. I'm actually teaching a Sunday School series on Francis Chan's reaction book, Erasing Hell, so needless to say, I'm not a fan. To be fair, he does make good points, and his style has its strengths, but some of his points in that book are historically shaky, and I'm not crazy about his attitude in interviews about the book.

If it's consolation, I did listen to the song, and it's not bad, though not something I could see myself getting into.

Also, my friend would love your name because he loved John Green and even created an interaction puzzle story thing with him called This Is Not Tom (which fell apart at the very end because my friend stopped caring about it).
08:57 AM on 10/24/11
TheSkyline
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Ha, fair enough. I'm actually teaching a Sunday School series on Francis Chan's reaction book, Erasing Hell, so needless to say, I'm not a fan. To be fair, he does make good points, and his style has its strengths, but some of his points in that book are historically shaky, and I'm not crazy about his attitude in interviews about the book.

If it's consolation, I did listen to the song, and it's not bad, though not something I could see myself getting into.

Also, my friend would love your name because he loved John Green and even created an interaction puzzle story thing with him called This Is Not Tom (which fell apart at the very end because my friend stopped caring about it).
Haha yeah, I've heard of that book as well. I certainly see where you are coming from, so I understand.
Haha im glad you somewhat enjoyed the song though! That's awesome that you're friend is into him that much, you should send us his way! haha
02:16 PM on 10/24/11
Rustash
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Ha, fair enough. I'm actually teaching a Sunday School series on Francis Chan's reaction book, Erasing Hell, so needless to say, I'm not a fan. To be fair, he does make good points, and his style has its strengths, but some of his points in that book are historically shaky, and I'm not crazy about his attitude in interviews about the book.

If it's consolation, I did listen to the song, and it's not bad, though not something I could see myself getting into.

Also, my friend would love your name because he loved John Green and even created an interaction puzzle story thing with him called This Is Not Tom (which fell apart at the very end because my friend stopped caring about it).
Whoa, wait, your friend was the guy who made the puzzles for TINT?! That's awesome! I wish they'd finished it though...
01:37 PM on 10/25/11
xJesusFreakx
duh please
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Whoa, wait, your friend was the guy who made the puzzles for TINT?! That's awesome! I wish they'd finished it though...
Yeah, the website actually started as a joke between him, a mutual friend named Tom, and I while we were eating Wendy's (that last detail isn't important; I just like Wendy's). We were joking about him hypothetically making websites ending in ".tom" instead of ".com," all of them parodies of real websites.

Somehow that evolved into "thisisnottom.com," which was initially just that first picture without the sentence underneath. It was a useless site for a pointless joke. He then decided to make it a puzzle website. Somehow he got John Green's attention, and they started telling a story through the puzzles.

Before this happened, my friend loved John Green, so I have no idea why he gave up in the final stretch. Just stopped caring, I guess. He's a philosophy major now, so your guess is as good as mine, lol.
11:54 AM on 10/29/11
spansen
and then what happens?
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This is what I came to ask... Cool.
07:37 PM on 08/07/12
Byroner
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This is not my swan song or adieu, so beware. Nike Denver Broncos Jersey
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