Many words have been spilled onto numerous pages about the dangers of trends. From a young age we are inured against taking the more traveled road, encouraged to beat our own path. As life goes on, our eyes start to wander, eyeing the easier solutions, tempting ourselves with shortcuts. “What’s the harm?” we ask ourselves. “What’s the harm in taking the lighter load from time to time?”. To avoid veering off the path, we need a constant reminder of what happens when we cut too many corners, when we give ourselves too many breaks. Life Through a Window by Structures is a perfect reminder of what transpires when an artist’s self critique gets too loose, when the hand reaches too often into the common toolbox. It’s an album filled with the worst its genre has to offer, blatantly used to shore up holes in the makeshift tapestry that is the end result.
This fact is most evident when looking directly at the instruments. There are no shortage of bands out there that rely on simple and straight-forward riffs that do not owe their strength to innovation. However, such bands understand this and inject their riffs and breakdowns with bustling energies that disconnect the mind and appeal right to the stomach. Neither of these approaches are present here. Not only are the breakdowns, which completely dominate the album, lacking in anything new, but they are also lackluster, performed without grace or verve. The result is, quite frankly, a collection of placeholders that feel designed, synthetic and dishonest. No amount of pick tricks, chuggy bass or resounding cymbals will replace the energy that a powerful breakdown conveys.
Naturally, when one department is lacking, one turns to the other aspects of an album to find some comfort. Once again, no shortage of bands that don’t rely on extremely engaging instruments exist. This is usually enabled by a striking vocalist, who’s power and talent can appeal to listeners while the instruments provide a backdrop. Unfortunately, no salvation is found in this department. It is unclear whether the dismal state of the vocals here derives from lack of inspiration or from sub-par execution. Regardless, the fact that remains that the vocals contribute to the unremarkable quality many of the tracks hold. It is hard to tell the tracks apart beyond the first three, vocal passages ubiquitously blending into one shouted admonition against…anything really. The only tracks that can be singled out owe that dubious honor to an even more disappointing fact: the incessant device of spoken word. Whether an attempt to draw from hardcore or punk, or simply a decision born of skill, the screams are often interspersed or are ended by spoken passages. The result, instead of infusing the lyrics with flow or angst, is a chopped up rhythm, further aggravated by awkward line structure.
To summarize, Life Through A Window is a further degeneration in the life of an already weakened genre. Structures’ attempt to appeal to the basic tastes among their listeners is an attempt rooted in corner cutting. Reclaiming the spark that originally moved them in past releases will require much more than reaching into the common deck and playing whichever faded card is drawn. We sincerely hope they can leave this release behind them and rethink the question that must always be asked: are we leaders or followers?
Structures – Life Through A Window