By Way Pristine
Way Pristine are melodic rock, and with melodic rock, there's always the danger of it becoming too melodic (i.e. boring.) Sadly, Way Pristine often fall into this trap. Their songs are well-produced and well structured, their instruments are well played, and the vocals are strong, but there's a spark missing.
Title track 'Inverted Converted' shows some early promise, with a grumbling bass undercurrent and a warning rumble to frontman Paul Blake's voice, but it then jumps ship and transforms into a studied, mainstream-pleasing soft-rock song with some of the most pointless lyrics you're likely to hear.
Runner-up in terms of dire lyrics, is 'The Kid on The Car' which is guilty of wandering wherever the easiest rhyme takes it, whilst not making an awful lot of sense. After hovering around for a while, this song briefly cranks it up to eleven, with a spasm of splintered guitars shot through with shrieky strings - but twenty seconds of string-strewn drama, does not a good song make.
'Afraid For Days' is an inoffensive slow-burner. It's the easiest thing in the world to drift along with 'Afraid For Day's steady, predictable, comfortable rhythms, and then switch it off and forget all about it. The same is true for the nauseatingly-entitled 'Last Poem.' A maudlin mush of strings, painfully earnest strumming and the occasional piano note, all wrapped up in a thick, sticky coat of sentimentality.
Thankfully, it does get better. 'What Do You Want I Say' and 'I Realise' both manage to be easy-on-the-ear, whilst retaining some personality. During 'What Do You Want I Say,' a bass pulse strikes the occasional, character-giving dark note amongst the easy guitar lines and glimmery chords. 'I Realise' is a similarly sedate sway, led by Blake's glossy voice. However, he occasionally rumbles out a low note, putting an edge on this otherwise squeaky-clean slab of lighters-in-the-air balladry. 'I Realise' is a guilty pleasure. The same can be said for 'Drifting Away and Die.' The glimmery chords and big vocals are once again in full swing, but roughened up with a flicker of bass. Likeable and instant but, crucially, this song holds something back, earning itself a few repeat listens.
'The Tragic Was Behind' is a pretty standard combo of melodic guitars and sparkling chords, but the brisk pace and driving drumbeats, means that you don't get the opportunity to realise just how safe 'The Tragic Was Behind' plays it.
'Inverted / Converted' does occasionally go out on a limb with an edgier sound. The most successful of these reckless moments is '13th.' A coiling, fluid beast of slide-guitars, creeping bass and rumbling vocals, it's a shame the entire album doesn't sound like this. 'The Hand' also has that menacing, sinuous quality, but Way Pristine funk things up with distortion that stutters and jigs across the song's surface. A surprisingly catchy gloom-fest.
'Voting For Your Clown' is the album's most experimental song, and it works - up until the halfway point. 'Voting For Your Clown' hops between passages of shimmering chords, and instrumental interludes of classy guitar lines. For all intents and purposes, these instrumentals act as 'Voting For Your Clown's chorus, and it's so quirky and hooky, you won't even notice the lack of a conventional, vocal-led chorus. However, 'Voting For Your Clown' completely loses its way during the second half. Blake cracks out the voiceovers - which are dangerous territory anyway - and then reels out cliche after cliche ("ladies and gentlemen / welcome to the show," anyone?) inbetween hollering the song title over and over and over again. Those ingeniously hooky instrumentals quickly become a distant memory. Do yourself a favour and hit the 'skip' button the moment Blake starts talking.
'Inverted / Converted' is an album that suffers from being a little too nice. Half of the songs will coast by without making any impression. '13th' and 'The Hand' have some bite, and will find a ready home with fans of melodic, easy to digest rock but, ultimately, 'Inverted / Converted' is an album that won't inspire a strong reaction either way.