Metalcore’s black sheep Issues clearly need a bit more ‘Headspace’ to decide where they’re going.
This is a band at a crossroads – creating such a polarising sound with two drastically different cleans and uncleans, there’s bound to be some melodic conflict, but ‘Headspace’ is the aural equivalent of the Middle East. An unnecessarily long, arduous trek through their contrasting sound, this second studio foray is a far more conflicted affair than the first, which left more questions than it answered.
From the misguided opener ‘The Realest’ trying its hand at hip hop gravitas to the audible scrapbook of ‘Lost-n-Found (On A Roll)’, this record is all over the shop. Brace for the melodic amnesia of ‘Yung & Dum’ with string interjections and gang vocals outta nowhere, ‘Made To Last’ even promises to end complications but it only makes this musical mess even more surreal. As with their debut’s ‘Sad Ghost’, the cringe-worthy vinyl scratching of ‘Flojo’, ‘Blue Wall’ and the sassy ‘Rank Rider’ really don’t help matters either.
That said, Tyler Carter’s cleans flow like liquid R&B offset by Michael Bohn’s anguished growls as ever, but it’s a lot more cut and shunt this time around. Lead single ‘COMA’ proves the most promising and passionate of the bunch, even though its needy lyrics shamelessly rip off chart-topper ‘Say Something’. Bohn’s clean interludes make a welcome change throughout closer ‘Slow Me Down’, drawing an overdue curtain on the melodic clutter.
Much like the morose pigeon on its artwork, ‘Headspace’ could possibly be a death knell for this ugly duckling. It’s not to say there isn’t any talent behind Issues – quite the opposite, they’re bristling with energy and conviction. But the longer they continue to fumble around in the dark with little sense of direction, the outlook isn’t good.
’Headspace’ by Issues is out on May 20th on Rise Records.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)