Alaska - Palcaptain EP
Record Label - Never Lost Records
Release Date - March 27, 2012
I want to love a band like Alaska. If you’re one of many enthralled with the shout-laced, cathartic artistry of La Dispute, or any of those Wave bands for that matter, Alaska is going to be difficult to shrug off. But under the layers of cutting guitars and familiar vocal cues heard on the band’s debut EP, Palcaptain, Alaska’s sheer inexperience ends up being their most glaring downfall. Often hit or miss in a flurry of melody and forward-thinking percussion, this first batch of jams from the Nevada-based group shows enough promise to keep us interested, but sadly doesn’t deliver consistently strong enough songwriting and musicianship to overcome the build up of curiosity created through the ups and downs of this EP.
Palcaptain is an exercise in Alaska finding solid footing in their approach to the currently thriving post-hardcore scene. In the midst of melodic blitzes and weaving rhythmic sections, the wandering vibes of the title track are watered down by overstaying their welcome. Somber and often mellow, the changes in mood during our opener disrupt the buildup of any steam. “Graveyards” instead insists on amped up abrasion slathered in melody, teetering a line of strong songwriting and simply pushing themselves too hard in the rhythm section, showing flashes of inexperience in the songwriting and melding together of parts for a good portion of the beginning of this track.
But where this band does seem to have things at full grasp is in emitting memorable melodies in the midst of tempered down instrumentation. Arguably the strongest start in the bunch, “Settlements” hits more often than not in its rather off-kilter placement of breaks in the every churning guitar lines anchoring most of this track. Harnessing percussion in a much more impression and effective manner, this track still allows for the shout-sing vocals to make their mark – something that is not apparent from front to back on this EP. Ending with the sullen “Vineyards”, the band again opts for a less aggressive mood in this guitar-dense track. Again, the spurting drums hit, and miss, with noticeable flux. It is rather unfortunate that vocally this track seems a bit out of place as the most passionate sounding, as often at times the music doesn’t keep up the energy these verses literally seep with.
The inconsistencies of Palcaptain, whether it lies in the sheer inexperience of its members or just not quite be able to put it all together, often spot out the brighter moments of moving guitar melodies and creative, yet sometimes off-target drumming. While far from what we might hope for from a band heavily living in the moment of their genre, there is a reasonable amount of hope that time and growth will pay off well for this young band. Alaska isn’t there yet, but perhaps in time they will be.