A Loss for Words - No Sanctuary
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Record Label: Rise Records
I was going to start this review off with a commentary about Rise Records and their ascension (see, I had to think of a synonym for “rise” there) to prominence in the punk/pop-punk/not metalcore scene, but then I decided that it wasn’t really necessary. The label is signing whatever bands it wants and putting out good records. That’s the beginning, middle and end of the story. The latest of those good records is No Sanctuary, the new full-length from Boston’s A Loss for Words.
One thing that you’re going to get out of an A Loss for Words record is awesome vocals. Matty Arsenault is as talented or more talented than 99 percent of his peers in the genre – the fact that AL4W put out a (decent) Motown Covers record is proof enough. Because of his unique range, something this genre doesn’t see all that often, No Sanctuary is able to hit a bunch of different marks, making it extremely versatile for a predominantly pop-punk album, especially when you compare it to the awfully repetitive The Kids Can’t Lose.
From the aggression of opener “Honeymoon Eyes,” Arsenault’s bandmates show they aren’t going to let him do all the work. The guitar work on No Sanctuary is vastly improved from the group’s past work. It seems like to some extent, A Loss for Words looked at their last (mediocre) LP, shaved off the extraneous aspects of it, and really started over with a fresh take on their own sound. The result is very much a positive one. Guitarists Nevada Smith (give me your name) and Marc Dangoura carry a furious vibe throughout the entire album without getting too predictable or corny; they let themselves get a bit more creative than you might normally hear, and it makes for a rarely unique stamp.
Songs like “Raining Excuses” and “The Lost Cause I Used To Be” show the most attractive part of Arsenault’s vocals – how easy they are to sing along to. Between the gang vocal cries of “We are bitter, broken people / But at least we keep each other company,” in the last chorus of “The Lost Cause I Used To Be,” to the refrain of “He’s not the one for you,” on “Raining Excuses,” listeners get a handful of easily memorable songs with solid lasting value. The versatility of No Sanctuary kicks in after the midpoint. The title track is a blisteringly aggressive mosh pit of a song, with screams and yells from the AL4W guitarists getting the song off to a wild start. On the complete other side of the spectrum, “Jetsetter” is a slow burner with Arsenault giving his most confident performance. More than ever, A Loss for Words is a band that can reach a broad audience.
The album’s two standouts are easy to spot. The great double-shot of “Pirouette,” which features the best chorus on No Sanctuary, and first single “The Hammers Fall” is one of these standouts. Things tread a little closer to the poppier side on newly revamped closer “Wrightsville Beach.” Originally released on AL4W’s 2008 Webster Lake EP, Arsenault gets into his groove here, but the complementing gang vocals turn the track into a jam.
No Sanctuary is a shockingly solid, diverse output from a band that probably didn’t have enormous expectations heading into this record. The Kids Can’t Lose was underwhelming at best, but to follow it up with this album shows that A Loss for Words is here to stay. No longer borrowing styles from the million other bands in this genre, they’re carving their own path, much like Fireworks did earlier this year. Now then, to wrap this up with a lame, half-assed clever play on the title of No Sanctuary…there won’t be anywhere to hide from A Loss for Words’ increasing stock over the course of the next year.
Great review as always, kind sir. I found this album to be a lot more diverse and guitar-driven than TKCL, and also it seems like Matty's vocals and sense of melody have improved a lot. Definitely a record worth checking out.
hmm. gonna check this out. I want to like a pop-punk record, and Yellowcard and The Wonder Years did nothing for me this year (I realize this is blasphemy on AP). both those records just all run together for me throughout. I think it's just that everything special has already been done with pop-punk, but will give this a spin.