Some bands tend to improve over time by choosing a slow, moderate increase in skill. Others however evolve and go through total metamorphasis in a remarkably short timespan. If you've heard of STARING BACK before the release of "On" and have made any judgments based on their prior material, you need to drop them quck because they are no longer relevant. "On" is a stunning collection of sensationally well-played melodic hardcore that takes the precision and musicianship of LAGWAGON, and bolsters it with engaging vocals and ever-thoughtful song arrangements. Guitars surge and slice, vocals range from soaring to screaming, and the drums continually pound with reckless abandon. Cameron Webb's huge production style holds the collective adhesive together in getting STARING BACK to completely gel. The tightness of the band and Webb's ultra clean sound works to the listener's advantage as it enhances the intracacies of each song.
Most enjoyable with "On" is the degree to which the songs are sequenced together, showing much skill in mating those rampant full-fledged hardcore moments ("Haunted") with the slicker, but just as dark cuts "Invite Only" and the ridiculously fast, "X-Out." Overally, the lyrical content is strong and the vocal hooks are abundant, but nothing reaches the pinnacle of the song "Me, 5 Years From Now, Somewhere Else" where vocalist Matt Evans croons, "So don't talk me down, I make the sound." Yeah, that's not leaving my head anytime soon. "On" finishes up riding high with the tunes, "Six Eyes Too Far Away," and the ripper, "The Problem With Fire," that latter of which concludes with some torrential guitar chugs - an all-out display of power. Lastly, the artwork with this disc is very sharp and fits with the sonically loud theme of the album - a touch that helps complete the wholeness of the release.