Tallhart - We Are The Same
Record Label: Rory Records
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Tallhart aren't beating around the bush, and if there's any evidence toconfirm that, it's their debut full-length We Are The Same. Being the first band to sign to Say Anything frontman Max Bemis' label couldn't have been an easy feat, but they as they show us in this ten song collection of cohesive indie-rockers, they may have been the perfect fit. Don't let the background fool you; Tallhart has more in common with alternative bands in the vein of All Get Out, Manchester Orchestra, or even the more mainstream Coldplay than it does with the punk-ish antics of Say Anything, but that should do nothing to stop you from checking out this contender for debut of the year and what deserves to become a crossover-indie success.
To be frank, the record starts off slightly dull; atmospheric opener "Our Bodies" is filled with warm harmonies and soft instrumentation as the intimate line "As I lay your head down/Give my love to you/Our bodies make a beautiful sound/Give my love to you" is repeated in a cathartic fashion, but if anything, this song is more of an introduction of what's to come. "High Speed" is as generic as the album gets, and even then, it only falls short to some (not so) "deep" lyricism throughout its verses ("I like to think we were made to remember/I like to think that we were made for something more/I like to think that we were there at the start of it/The dying breath of an endless war/Another endless war", before clicking into high speed (pun intended) and providing quirky guitar-driven choruses alongside a hopeful yet aggressive bridge. If you haven't been intrigued yet, this is the moment where you will undoubtedly make up your mind about Tallhart.
What follows are eight individually strong songs that help play a role in defining the band's identity. Whether it's the fit-for-radio "Fighter", with verses that chug and slide into one of the record's biggest choruses and falsettos crooning "When I see you/You make me want to believe that I'm a fighter/When I see you/You make me want to believe in something bigger" or the rockin' mid-tempo highlight "A Ring a Reason", the band has a knack for simplistic choruses that are unforgettable without the use of dressy metaphors. The vocals, the musicianship, the production- each category presented pristine for a debut album. If there are any weak points, it's in the slightly cheesy and sometimes spiritual lyricism (which may or may not have had a bearing on Bemis' decision). Those of you who avoid religious themes in your music should not fear, however, as the words are more of a David Bazan-esque observation take than sermon-drenched renditions.
"See God Again" starts with a short acapella verse, leading into a dramatic, piano-centered cut while "The Fire" and "Mexico" both do their job to show off a faster side of the band.While the former is a hopeful and upbeat number, "Mexico" features a finely cut dark edge around the idea of epiphanies and realizations regarding relationships (say that three times fast). There's a certain grit to the words,"I swear I'll never love another", that make you feel directly involved with the music sounding through your speakers. If these songs are good, the band brushes greatness with the even darker “Wandering Kind”, a slightly aggressive and unapologetic letter to a lover featuring fantastic verses and choruses that sound as though they could have been lifted from City and Colour’s Little Hell; “I’d never say it’s right/But my heart is a wandering kind/And it’ll only break you down”.The album’s highest point, however, comes in the form of “Holy Coast”, a short, desperate plea backed by acoustic guitar filled with admittance and regret. “No one ever really shakes/The faith they make/So my demons still abound” leads into a reverb filled halt, which hums just before breaking back into it’s simple acoustics. This is easily one of the best songs I’ve heard all year.
The title track closes the record out, sounding more so than ever like Manchester Orchestra (but not in an unoriginal way) and defining their debut and place in the scene with a straightforward, “sum of all parts” rock number. “We Are the Same” is a moment of reflection, stretching over everything you’ve just heard and convincing you of why you should play the record again (as I did). If you’re the kind of person who’s always on the hunt for up-and-comers, Tallhart have absolutely stolen the crowd this year with an album that manages to sound nostalgic and full of energy, all at the same time. Don’t let title of this record fool you, as Tallhart’s debut stretches away from anything their contemporaries have shown in quite some time.