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ALBUM REVIEW: Defeat The Low ‘A Nervous Smile’

A Nervous Smile takes its listeners back to the early 2000s with mecca of emo-rock lyrics and a splash of post-hardcore vocals.

For fans of Rise Records, this is a new direction. The company’s artists still lean heavily hardcore and metal. Recently, however, the company has added many bands such as PVRIS and Emily’s Army. On top of this, many of their long-time artists, Emarosa and Issues come to mind, have also embraced this move towards alt-rock by altering their sound entirely. This makes Defeat The Low a different band for Rise.

Lead singer Chris Huaraque’s vocals are completely on point. He sings with a clean enunciation exclusive to pop-punk. On “Aurora Ave,” “Simple City,” and “Walking Dead,” the arrangements intensify the pop-punk feel. The remaining tracks are reminiscent of a more rock-inspired vocal style. Think Nirvana.

The album is broken into two parts. The first five tracks stay within a rock and punk-pop sensibility, while, the remaining five include a smattering of metal and hardcore with small sections of screaming in each song. This is likely an attempt at appealing to a hardcore audience.

It’s clear that many iconic bands from the past few decades have influenced Defeat The Low. The intro to the first track, “Swordfish,” comes right out of Paramore’s “Brick By Boring Brick.” If the vocals on the third track, “Clarity,” were spoken, this could easily be a Beastie Boys song. These connections are just a few reasons that this album is so nostalgic.

The album’s retro feel is a lot of fun, but the timing of this release lessens its impact. This past year, many newly signed bands have brought back the sounds of 10 and 15 years ago. This makes it hard to find something new here. Time will tell whether Defeat The Low can develop a more distinct sound from the foundation of this debut album.

You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.

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Ariella Laichas-Malamud

Co-editor of this fine publication and loving every minute of it. Music is my life as seen by all of my usernames. When I'm not doing music, I'm watching netflix or talking about poetry. Native to sunny city by the beach, English major in one of the rainiest cities on earth.

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