Review by Dom Vigil
Defeat The Low’s A Nervous Smile is like a breath of fresh air. While the band is listed simply as “Rock” on their facebook page, this album sounds more like early 2000’s post-hardcore with gorgeous clean vocals. A Nervous Smile’s sound is unlike anything that any bands similar to Defeat The Low are currently doing, and that’s what makes it such a stand out.
One of the strongest aspects on A Nervous Smile are the vocals, which again, are unlike anything I’ve been listening to lately. The first track on the album, “Swordfish,” has a chorus that could kill (the high notes are especially gorgeous) and lyrics that are emotional and relatable. On top of that, the track is incredibly well-balanced. While the lyrics and vocals are definitely one of the best aspects of the song, they’re not overpowering by any means, and the soft lead guitar part on the chorus only serves to compliment the beautiful vocal work. And as “Swordfish” transitions into “Aurora Ave,” it becomes apparent that the entire album is incredibly well-balanced. While some of the songs do tend to sound similar to one another, they all flow wonderfully, making for a very easy listen.
One of the best tracks on A Nervous Smile is the standout sixth song, “American Made,” which starts off much faster than the rest of the album. The explosive beginning to the track, coupled with the fast-paced unclean vocals are incredible, and the overall high energy of the song definitely sets it apart from the rest of A Nervous Smile. The different vocal style on “American Made” is definitely a welcome change as well. On the opposite end of the spectrum, another great song is the slower track, “Harbor.” Lyrically, “Harbor” is definitely one of the strongest tracks on A Nervous Smile, though the lyricism throughout the entire album is definitely one of its strongest aspects.
A Nervous Smile is just easy to listen to. In fact, the first time I listened to the album, I didn’t even realize that I had listened to every song until the final track, “In Formation” faded out. The entire album flows so amazingly from one song to another that it’s easy to to get lost in it and listen to it again and again on repeat without getting bored. The only downside in that is that some of the songs do flow into one another and tend to sound similar, but that’s a minor flaw compared to the otherwise phenomenal songwriting and stellar production on this record. If you’re looking for something new and refreshing, Defeat The Low’s A Nervous Smile is the album for you.
Listen to "American Made"