San Diego-based four-piece Keyes are relatively new to the scene, having been conceived less than a year ago. Despite their infancy they have hit the ground running with EP Therefore/Without, a poignant glimpse into the turbulent friendships and relationships we all tend to endure at one time or another. In an age where a general shift toward metal and all its related subgenres is the dominant trend, Keyes keep things light and bright with unapologetically emotional and candid compositions.
“Cities of Fog with Nothing to Love” provides a calm entrance with its initially straightforward yet alluring opening, eventually progressing to clever guitar riffs and adroit supporting drums while singer Kyle Allen switches to harsher vocals, a staple of the record. Continuing with “Snowglobe,” the band elaborate on their sound by crafting an atmosphere of energetic commotion, all the while implanting plenty of melody amidst the storm. “As deep as our roots grow, they can’t be planted in the snow,” Allen modestly voices over an artful, repeated guitar lick, illustrating the group’s thoughtful approach to the post-hardcore genre. Fourth track “Eleanor Lamb” perfectly showcases Keyes’ writing potential. A clean introduction transitions gracefully to a powerful rhythmic passage before reaching a vaguely groovy section of playful musicianship. This mitigates with a heartfelt pause of undistorted guitars and soft vocals before a further assault of raw emotion. One can easily appreciate the different directions displayed in a song such as this, making it my personal favourite. Stimulation and spirit reach their peak in the band’s final piece “Moon Follow Me.” Lively from the get-go, this number is full of aggression, both musically and lyrically, only relenting in the last few moments as the record draws to a close.
Having found a pleasing middle ground between the complicated and the simplistic, this EP can be summed up with one word: passion.