DECEMBERS FALL is a four piece outfit from New York City, led by singer/songwriter Francesca Scivetti. With her are a guitar player, bassist and drummer, and “Awakening” is said outfits debut album. They claim to incorporate Classical undertones, Ambient Electronica and edgy female vocals in their modern Rock sound. Let’s see what the music has to say for itself.
“Awakening” begins with a heavy, downtuned riff, played for all of 8 seconds, and then the verse pops up with a clean guitar melody with Ms. Scivetti crooning vocals on top. This eventually segues into the chorus, which gets a bit heavier in the music department...Right away, there are drastic problems apparent with the mixing of the record. For some reason, records of bands with female vocalists have this annoying tendency to make the singer the focal point of EVERYTHING by pretty much lowering the volume of the other instruments and making them be very pedestrian in their playing. The guitars are very low in the overall mix, and it sometimes sounds like they’re not even there.
I’m not going to complain about the sound of the album, though, when there are glaring problems in the songwriting and the vocals on the record. Well, vocals first: She sounds way too much like a high school girl trying really hard to form her own Rock band, and she is trying so hard to be edgy yet melodic, but she lacks the power in her voice and the range that would allow her to sing well. The result is some very pedestrian vocal melodies which sound more like lullabies than anything else.
The songwriting is pretty bland as well, with generally no surprises at all. Most of the songs have the whole “quiet verse-loud chorus” dynamic which is used ad nauseum. I’m not saying the choruses turn into barrages of sound, but the music gets slightly denser and livelier. The problem is that the music is extremely simple, and nothing will stand out and it will all blend into the background. I have a feeling the point was to showcase the vocals, but they’re not that impressive to begin with.
What’s cool are the small amount of interludes between each song. Each pair of songs is split up by a small instrumental piece, between 40 seconds and almost 2 minutes long, and serves as a small break. It’s a good and interesting way to introduce the following songs, and it can also be used to create some atmosphere or set mood, which is always nice. “Isolation From The World” is the best one of the bunch, basically being a melancholic piano piece with some rain and thunderstorm samples, and it works to create a slightly bleak tone.
All’s not bad, though. Two songs stick out, “In Giving In” and “Absence of Yourself”, and probably not coincidentally, both are pretty upbeat numbers, and instead of plodding along at mid-tempo, the songs themselves are faster and have an albums danceable beat to it. Yea, and it’s this beat is what makes me like the songs. It fits in with the rest of the album with the simple instrumentation and the song structures, but when compared to how much FUN it sounds, they are infinitely more so than the rest.
All in all though...blah.
(Online February 28, 2009)