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I Was Totally Destroying It

Preludes

Rating: 2.0/5.0

Label: Greyday

Sometimes everything and anything made in the past 10 years unavoidably sounds like the re-purposing of interesting artistic moments from the ’60s to the ’90s. With nostalgia as a currency for creation as well as criticism, there also exists a delicate, indefinite interval between the time when something is current and the time when it becomes a point of nostalgia. Sometimes the evocation of a time past is realized too soon. I Was Totally Destroying It defeat themselves with this caveat on their latest release, Preludes, just as fast as Oliver Stone’s hasty construction of 2006’s World Trade Center. The fact that they played last week’s Third Eye Blind after-party is a staggering indicator of where the band’s head is at.

Chapel Hill’s I Was Totally Destroying It siphons the energy of turn of the (late) century power-pop through the thick square-shaped, lens-less glasses of emo. With no instances of guilty pleasure to hold on to, IWTDI sling muscular guitars, hurling hurricanes of power chord formations like on “Regulators” and “Twenty-Thousand” that exhaust the ear. Kick-off track “Wrecking Ball” steals the sunshine from the Dandy Warhols’ guitar strengths while leaning on the vocal gusto of Motion City Soundtrack’s bubble-gum flavored misery. Frontman John Booker drops some entertainingly puerile lyrical doozies, paving the way for more unforgivable moments on Preludes: “I may hate myself but I hate you all so much more/ So much more/ So much more/ Yeah, it’s me against the world.”

The album too, is largely lacking in atmospherics and in other sonic subtleties. Times in which IWTDI come up for air are far and few between as a swathe of garishly produced guitars and vocals are at a constant, rendering a tiresome listen. Booker’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Rachel Hirsh also sings in the band which invariably situates most of the content on the album around the romantic tribulations and exploits between the two. “Control” the jaunty exposé by Hirsh, overtly discusses terrestrial discomforts and claustrophobic living situations overcome by self-prescribed esteem. During a softer moment on “All Get Lucky,” the couple’s vocals are so polished that in the midst of Booker and Hirsh’s vocal interplay it’s difficult to distinguish who is singing which part and when. On “Fight/Flight” Hirsh wants to show off her pipes with soaring dynamics but the flawlessly-flawed chants are cold and exacting. Whether it is achieved through software or pedal, there is no trace of human error, building incredulity against the notes struck.

Flickers of more interesting personalities of the Chapel Hill outfit that would help to define the group, flare up for a few measures only to disappear. A sample on the beginning of “Out Tonight” fades in and out but remains mostly inaudible as well as the angularly flerbing guitar on “With You Now.” These are ideas that just fold and dissolve into the fierce mediocrity of the rest of album.

Despite giving off only an unpleasant aftertaste of emo and echoing already championed guitar-prominent songs by the power-pop movement, I Was Totally Destroying It get an A for effort. To their credit, I Was Totally Destroying It makes it difficult for one to disconnect themselves from subjective dismissal of their project. You want to tell them what they’re doing is over and that at best they’ll be an introduction for someone’s discovery of Weezer or Jimmy Eat World, because they suffer from over-production and debased pop tendencies, but they just seem so happy and fulfilled doing it. Sometimes a hearty, “Wooo!” is spontaneously given from Booker in between phrases on Preludes and the personality of the instrumentation likewise, is always playing strong and with deliberate obedience, demonstrating infallible passion for what they do. The problem is there just might not be any room on the raft for I Was Totally Destroying It. They’re so nice and talkative. But you’ve heard it all before and it sounded better the first time around, you just feel bad pushing them off.

by Sky Madden

Key Tracks: Control, Fight/Flight

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