Senses Fail’s last full-length album, 2015’s ‘Pull The Thorns From Your Heart’ proved to be perhaps being the breaking point of a sound that has become both heavier and weaker over the years. Now the post-hardcore veterans seem to be attempting to atone for their mediocrity by going in the exact opposite direction. There are only two possible reasons for a band choosing to release the dreaded acoustic EP. Either they are bored, or, they are failing to strike creative gold in tried-and-tested ways. So which applies to ‘In Your Absence’?
Senses Fail vocalist Buddy Nielsen has revealed the main inspiration behind the EP’s songs as wife’s battle with multiple sclerosis. With this in mind, it feels somewhat heartless to dismiss ‘In Your Absence’ as depressing and bleak in the worst sense. But its not the subject matter, nor sentiment, where Nielsen falls short. The melodies are dreary and meander over sparse arrangements that come across as lazy. This is most moticeable on ‘Death Bed’’s painfully basic chords.
When a lone electric guitar is introduced on ‘Family Tradition’, it contributes nothing but a similarly drab riff that sounds like the first idea hastily conceived in a studio. Dullest of all is the string-laden title track, Nielsen’s voice creaky and wavering: “How the hell am I supposed to get used to all this death?”.
The gloomy tone is something of a missed opportunity – had the EP continued in sunny opener ‘Jets To Perú’’s vein, it could feasibly have become an attractively conflicting take on grief. Even so, the track’s chorus is again bland and hastily arranged over stock processed beats.
‘In Your Absence’ is for fans only, but even the most ardent will find this effort hard to love. A pointless diversion that adds nothing to Senses Fail’s legacy as esteemed post-hardcore and emo merchants. It exemplifies the infamous acoustic EP sterotype – regrettable and forgettable.
‘In Your Absence’ EP by Senses Fail is released on March 3rd on Pure Noise Records
Words by Peter Stewart (@PeteStew_)