Top positive review
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Not their best, but still quite good
on October 22, 2011
With two acclaimed albums under their belts, it only seems fair for fans like myself to have high expectations going into indie alternative rock group Deas Vail`s self-titled third offering. Produced by Relient K's very own Matt Hoopes and preceded by the unveiling of three fantastic singles, Deas Vail showed a lot of promise leading up to its release. The final product certainly has its highs and lows, but it's still a good album when it's all said and done.
Deas Vail had previously found much success in creating a sound with atmosphere, which makes it easy to just be swept off your feet listening to it as they carry you through soaring compositions and gorgeous melodies. Deas Vail certainly continues the trend of creating atmosphere, but it's definitely not as strong here as it has been in the past. Songs like the lead-in track "Desire," the subtly intense "Quiet Like Sirens," and closer "Meeting in Doorways" will move you with their sweeping melodies and soaring vocals, but the feeling isn't nearly as strong as it was even on the weaker tracks of Birds & Cages, the band's previous record. The feeling is different, that's for sure, and if you let the music take you it will definitely carry you away with it, but it's rarely quite as epic as their past work, and the overall mellower feel also disappoints due to a shortage of more energetic tracks.
Another contributing factor to the overall weaker feel of this record is definitely the shift in the focus of the lyrics. This time around, the lyrics mostly focus on love from different perspectives rather than delving into deeper spiritual issues, which is not a bad focus to take on in and of itself, but the content just doesn't lend itself to many moments of deep reflection like past songs such as "Birds" or "Sunlight" did. Still, you have to give writer and frontman Wes Blaylock credit for writing pure poetry: these lyrics are consistently well-written and flow with the music and Wes' incredibly high vocals very well. There are still some inspiring and thought-provoking moments, though, especially in the catchy "Wake Up and Sleep," which creatively deals with complacency with the lyrics, "Are you waking up just to fall asleep again?" "Sixteen" also has some of the best lyrics on the album with lines like, "Love is taking what we have, baby, don't let go now / remember that it's hard because it's worthwhile," and "Love is where we turn to get us through / I will always turn and follow You."
Low points aside, Deas Vail still delivers several quality tracks throughout the album's running time. "Desire" opens up the album nicely with some absolutely fantastic vocal work, and "Sixteen" follows as an energetic and thoroughly enjoyable lead single. "Quiet Like Sirens" and "Pulling Down the Sun" offer plenty of interesting musical moments while "Wake Up and Sleep," is among the catchier tracks on the album with its distinct groove. "Summer Forgets Me" is also an instant highlight with simply gorgeous vocal performances and a fun, upbeat vibe. Also, Deas Vail features dual vocals with both Wes and Laura Blaylock more prominently than past albums did, which adds a lot of depth and appeal to the songs.
Deas Vail is a solid album that definitely took more than a few listens to grow on me, but I can't say I didn't see that coming: I didn't particularly like Birds & Cages until I listened to it a lot either. When it comes down to it, though, Birds & Cages is just a much better album than this self-titled one, ultimately making this release feel like a bit of a step back for the band. I can't say I was completely let down, but this album has left more than a little to be desired, especially in terms of energy and lyrical depth. If you haven't heard Birds & Cages yet, definitely check that album out before this one, but Deas Vail is still completely worth listening to for fans.