Written By: Ben Millikan
Label: A&M/Octone – Rating:
If you were to Google “Flyleaf Vs. Paramore” you would get a slew of threads on various message boards with ardent fans declaring their allegiance to their respective band. Most of these boards contain frivolous banter with tensions only coming to a rise over the ever contentious argument of who is hotter: Hayley Williams or Lacey Mosley?
Female lead singers aside, both bands do have strikingly similarities: both have members of the Christian faith; both had their previous albums go platinum (Paramore with Riot! and Flyleaf with their self-titled debut), and both now have new albums out in 2009. And while all of the talk over the past few months has been about Paramore’s Brand New Eyes, Flyleaf has quietly begun promoting their sophomore release Memento Mori.
What is readily apparent at first listen of Memento Mori is a much heavier sound than that of Flyleaf’s previous album. The drums are tighter, the guitars are thicker, and overall, there is a much more aggressive feel with a polished finish. The quintet from Texas has obviously matured form their first experience in the studio, but while they may be tighter rhythmically, there still is a lack of creativity. As a result, certain tracks tend to blur into one another with repetitive drum beats and recycled guitar riffs. “Beautiful Bride” has a powerful, palm-muted intro and “Chasm” contains a semi-interesting riff with a little bit of color, but the overall lack of a definitive groove from song to song fails to individualize each track.
Although musically, Flyleaf still has plenty of potential to expand, the onus of creativity is picked up with the lyrics of Lacey Mosely. There is definitely a more personal feel to Memento Mori, with Lacey constantly making spiritual references to the trials and tribulations of her faith. “Treasure” is an inspirational and heart-felt track where she reveals the glorious feeling of realizing her importance and her invaluable place in God’s kingdom. “Missing,” a catchy track that shows potential for another radio hit, is a thought-provoking commentary on how the world would be without love. Lacey explains: “Love is painful. It requires work. It’s selfless. Even though it’s difficult, if you take that out of the earth you’re going to end up with nothing.”
Using her melodic charm to stand out in the mix, Lacey also lets off a few catatonic screams that she has become known for. On “Swept Away” she reaches a growling climax during the bridge that is usually unbecoming from female singers, but with the passion and emotion that she invests into her song writing she is able to get away with it. Lacey is able to pour out her spiritual guts into her deeply personal lyrics with a sense of unequivocal conviction that speaks to a larger audience and ties into the meaning of Memento Mori (a Latin phrase meaning “Be mindful of death”).
Despite the sense of urgency that Lacey conveys through her lyrics, the same can’t be said for the music. I hate to use the cliche “sophomore slump”––and to be fair, this record doesn’t warrant such a claim––but there is definitely more room for Flyleaf to grow and define their sound. Paramore has already achieved this feat, but give Flyleaf another year or so of touring and the chance to write another record and they shouldn’t be too far behind.
Want More Flyleaf?
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Flyleaf Album Release Party (Photos)
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Flyleaf @ The El Ray – Los Angeles, CA (Photos)
Flyleaf @ Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR (Review)
Flyleaf @ Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR (Photos)
Review of Memento Mori