When you think of Senses Fail, you instantly think of James “Buddy” Nielsen. As the only original member of the band left, Nielson has maintained his reputation as a thought-provoking songwriter and vocalist throughout Senses Fail’s career. Now as he leads the way as the sole songwriter with album number seven, ‘If There Is Light, It Will Find You’, he offers a personal insight into fatherhood and questioning the future, all with a hint of nostalgia.
While Senses Fail’s recent outings have taken a grittier, more abrasive direction, ‘If There Is…’ stylistically throws you in circa 2006. Driving, upbeat instrumentation is on the menu, launching straight into ‘Double Cross’ with a bolt of adrenaline. This momentum is carried into ‘Elevator To The Gallows’ and ‘New Jersey Makes, The World Takes’. The latter even provides a “no-o-o-oh” hook in its chorus as Nielson reflects on his previous substance use. On the surface, ‘If There Is…’ is a blast of bold guitars, hard-hitting drums and Nielson’s almost faultless blend of singing and screaming.
Throughout ‘If There Is…’’ sonic tone is countered by Nielson’s lyrical outpouring, both personally and socially. ‘Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…’ takes aim at the government and those who set expectations.
Underneath the melody-driven, post-hardcore sound is a deeply emotive side. ‘First Breath, Last Breath’ is a direct love letter to Nielsen’s wife, who nearly died whilst giving birth. ‘Orlando And A Miscarriage’ is an emotional rush of outpouring. ‘Is It Gonna Be The Year?’ takes an introspective look at his life in Senses Fail and questions his legacy; “I know not everyone believes in me, And what will I be remembered for.”
Some may see ‘If There Is Light…’ as a stylistic step back. However, when combined with Nielsen’s thoroughly honest songwriting, you discover a band who are comfortable to reach into its past to move forward. While members have jumped on and off, Nielsen maintains the confident vessel that is Senses Fail.
‘If There Is Light, It Will Find You’ by Senses Fail is released on 16th February on Pure Noise Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)