UK Release July 18th 2011 on Fearless Records
Colorado electro-rock outfit Breathe Carolina are David Schmitt and Kyle Even who provide the vocals, keyboards and programming for a synthy-dance sound with a post-hardcore (read: shouty boy) edge. Kyle Even’s screamo vocals feature less prominently on this, their third studio album, and as such this will be seen as a sellout and a shot at the mainstream.
‘Wooly’ has a tougher Pendulum-esque feel, a bouncy yet grungey stomp with trademark growling from Even. Harsh aggressive vocals shouldn’t have to mean paint-stripping shouting though (see We are the Ocean and Alexisonfire) and here the mix of plinky-plonky electro sounds, techno-lite beats and the gravel-yelling is incongruous to the point of not working.
‘Last Night [Vegas]‘ sounds like a bad nightclub after too many Jaegerbombs – if a Rebecca Black guest vocal came in halfway through, it wouldn’t be a surprise. ‘Sweat It Out’, ‘Edge Of Heaven’ and ‘Take It Back’ are more like it, with addictive beats and noodly electro-experimentation creating an uplifting disco feel. The best tracks are where the autotune and vocoders are turned down and the focus is on the songwriting. ‘Gone So Long’ is irresistibly catchy and at its core just a good ethereal pop song. From this evidence, the band could well be writing for Britney. In a good way.
Overall ‘Hell Is What You Make It’ is dipping its toes in too many genres, and not really successfully staying afloat in any of them. There are better dance acts, there are better post-hardcore bands, and there’s better pop out there. In places it sounds like Jason Derulo gone horribly wrong. A computerised voice is never going to make an emotional connection, and when the dance direction loses its compass, the whole thing becomes soulless.
Review by Mel J