Album Review: Haste by Aviation and the War

Review written by Hannah of www.rockmycommute.com

Aviation and the War, wow what a band name! I love that their whole release (titled Haste) is so acoustic-intensive, without being boring. And I like that the album art is so homespun without being predictable; an edgy and dark line drawing.

The opening track is “Dwellers”; off to an echoey start before crisp percussion brings more structure to the ethereal yet logical backing music. The chorus is slow but very rich; very feeling-ful rock. The next track introduces a swinging, steady rhythm with the occasional moody guitar solo peeking through intense vocals. Track #3 called “Child’s Play” continues this rhythmic intensity, again in a minor key. But the instrumentation that bubbles in on the chorus is a little jazzy and dreamlike all at once. Almost like something by Milky Chance – before becoming punctuated with really honest, wooden drumstick sounds.

The fourth track (“Familiar Dark”) is the first one that is almost upbeat, and therefore an instant favorite for me. It starts out a little bit like a Jack Johnson song, and it is definitely catchy. It feels like the kind of song you’d listen to from the porch of a beach cottage, but in the rain on a gray New England afternoon. You’ll notice that throughout the album, the lyrics on these songs are very confessional, very raw, internal, and pained – “I wanna see the waves crashing in to the shoreline as I spin around to rhythmic sounds, with someone far less miserable than you.” It gets a little – well, angry partway through. But somehow this works, with words about experiencing earth shakes, pulse beats, and crashing waves; before ending abruptly and leaving you wishing for more.

“Faintly I Recall” is a sad-ish song of regret. This one reminds me of a stripped-down version of “10,000 Weight in Gold” by the Head and the Heart, but with harmonica instead of tear-jerking piano. And “Above the Earth” is another confessional-type of song over lyrical guitar arpeggios. Track #8, called “Better Half” is another great example of the sensitive lyrics that Aviation and the War are capable of, like this line – “so be mad if you must, just remember me as I once was.” It is also full of strummy, soulful acoustic guitar.

Track 9 is the title track! It opens with a simple acoustic tune, and a voice reminiscent of Ed Sheeran crooning: “this is hopeless, though I can’t change my stars – and let’s be honest, these temporary scars will be forever there for me to see.” The song finally breaks open into electric guitars crashing their way out of this song, leading the vocalist to leave his comfort zone and forcefully demand “how are you so cold?” This album actually goes out with a bang, or at least a lot of rock energy.

The artist presents this as an indie-band, but it feels more folky most of the time. There are not a ton of backing vocals or intense guitars; I would describe this as mostly acoustic music fronted by a raw and genuine vocalist (not as irritating as Conor Oberst, but not as animated as James Mercer from the Shins, either). Overall this is not really my style, a little bit bittersweet for my taste – with not enough upbeat and rollicking songs. But if I happened to hear “Familiar Dark” on the radio I would definitely be interested and impressed. I just love the visuals and feelings of that song – and the rest of the album is better than tolerable with touching lyrics, so totally worth a try! Overall a quality album, and a good debut effort for a thoughtful band with a talented songwriter.

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