Review by Dom Vigil
Breathe Again is a hard hitting, emotional and diverse release from Spoken. Captivating and aggressive vocals mesh wonderfully alongside complex guitar work and pounding drums, riddled with smart electronic elements, providing fourteen fun to listen to and polished songs.
The first noticeable thing about Breathe Again is the complex and sometimes wild guitar work that goes on to carry much of the album. However, the second thing that I noticed about the sound on Breathe Again was the distinct lack of bass. Especially on the album’s first full track, “Walking In My Dreams,” the guitar work, drums and vocals are all incredibly strong, providing a stellar opener, but the song almost feels as if it’s missing a lower end of the spectrum (especially in the chorus) that would make it sound even fuller and bigger. Thankfully, though, this becomes easy to forget about as Breathe Again chugs forward, as there are definitely more strengths on this album than there are weaknesses.
Right off the bat, there are some really strong moments in Breathe Again. The little electronic effects on the vocals throughout “Walking In My Dreams” really set the mood not only for the song, but for the whole album. Listeners will know exactly what to expect from Spoken after “Walking In My Dreams” because they deliver a little bit of everything in this song. There is a big vocal range in “Walking In My Dreams,” as well as some incredibly strong guitar work, especially toward the end of the song, and electronic parts that keep the song chugging forward, telling a story. It only makes sense when the following song, “Beyond The Stars” comes in with a perfect transition, providing another great snapshot of Spoken. “Beyond The Stars” is driven forward by some very interesting and fun to listen to drumming, strong guitar work, and varying vocals. At first, the song feels very dark, with low and aggressive vocals, but the chorus proves to be beautiful, bright and melodic, show off multiple sides of Spoken in only one song.
As Breathe Again progresses forward, it only seems to get stronger and stronger. Though a fourteen-track album may seem a bit taunting, and though it would be easy for a band to write at least a few filler songs for an album of this length, every track on Breathe Again serves a purpose. There are no two songs on the album that sound exactly alike, but at the same time, it is a very consistent release. Breathe Again is diverse without sounding all over the place, and “Surrender” is a good example of this. “Surrender” is easily one of the slowest songs on the album, but it isn’t quite a ballad. Beginning and ending with fast paced guitar and drum work, the song then slows down into raw and emotional vocals in the chorus. Unlike some of the other songs on the album, you can really feel the emotion behind the vocals in this track.
Another high point on Breathe Again comes in “Hollow And Untrue.” Vocally and lyrically, this is one of the strongest and most relatable songs on the album. The theme of betrayal in this song is something nearly everyone can connect to. On top of that, the guitar work in this track is on par with the rest of the album, and coupled with the beautiful melodic vocals in the chorus, it sounds larger than life.
Though the second half of Breathe Again does seem to lose a little bit of momentum after “Hollow And Untrue,” there are still some strong tracks before the end. “Your Memories Are Alive Again,” for instance, stands out due to the fact that it’s one of the album’s slower songs. “Poison In The Air" is carried heavily by electronic elements, making it stand out from the pack as well.
The strong ending to Breathe Again comes in “Hold On,” however, which is another lyrically strong track. “Hold On” is positive, providing a message of hope with, “Hold on just a little bit longer/And we will see the light of a new day again.” The positive ending of the album is not only a smart choice, but it will also leave listeners lingering for more even after the song comes to an end and fades into the final track, “Take My Breath Away” and the following outro. Breathe Again will leave listeners wanting more, just as any strong album should, proving that, even eighteen years after their debut release, Spoken are not through with us quite yet.
Listen to "Hollow And Untrue" or "Hold On"
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