Before I even open my mouth, I want to reiterate I am a huge fan of The Flatliners. I have loved every album they have released, even the ska one. Their B-Side album, Division of Spoils, was one of the best records released in 2015, beating out plenty of bands that brought their A-game. I think Cavalcade is one of the best albums to be released EVER. A sect of people will say Dead Language is better, but those people are “those” punks who flat out refuse to like anything that is popular and have to go and say some stupid shit like that to make themselves feel special. It’s a fucking great album, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not better than Cavalcade; not much is. Basically, what I’m saying is The Flatliners is an amazing band.
So that’s why I have to ask: What in the actual fucking hell happened here? Dead Language was the logical next step in The Flatliners’ career. It kept the heart of Cavalcade while also moving the band forward. I get that they don’t want to desperately make Cavalcade over and over; they are not The Menzingers after all. You have to progress as a band or become stagnant, and that’s fine. What you cannot do is abandon everything that made you great and expect people to be on board with it. The new album Inviting Light sounds like The Flatliners skipped ten steps in their career and just released that certain album that bands release before they go on an “indefinite hiatus” only to reunite five years later at some stupid fucking festival.
When The Flatliners announced they signed to Rise Records, I was nervous. If Red Scare is the training grounds for Fat Wreck Chords, Rise is the retirement home. When they released the cover art for Inviting Light, I was slightly offended. “What is this, an Incubus album?” But shitty cover art and disappointing labels don’t make an album suck. I was holding out hope. It’s the fucking Flatliners after all! Finally, came the first single “Human Party Trick.” It’s not the worst song in the world, but far from the best Flatliners song out there. Something was off. Ever the optimist however, I decided one song out of context wasn’t going to sway me. I just wouldn’t listen to anymore singles until I could listen to the album in full.
Well, I’m on my sixth listen through and I have to say that the best part of the album is the first 54 seconds of “Mammals.” It’s not even that I think Inviting Light is a bad album; it is mediocre at worst. Forgettable. Boring. These are not words that should describe a Flatliners album. It took me all six listens to realize “Hang My Head” was released on their Nerves EP back in October and that’s why it sounded vaguely familiar. “Nicotine Lips” is a decent song ruined by the weird vocal effects they put on Chris Cresswell’s voice throughout the entire album. I think this is a big part of what is stopping me from completely liking this record. Some songs like “Mammals,” “Burn Out Again,” and “Infinite Wisdom” have potential for me to change my mind somewhere down the road after many more listens and an adjustment to the odd production. But, then there are songs like “Chameleon Skin”, which is just five minutes of Chris repeating “Dress me up in your Chameleon Skin” before the song has the audacity to fucking fade out. And then there’s “Wedding Speech”, which showcases Chris doing his best Davey Havok impression. OH! But then again, I really like “Unconditional Love” which to me sounds basically like a bizarro Canadian version of an outlaw country western song.
Look, I might be that asshole fan who is just mad this isn’t The Flatliners I wanted. Maybe it’s some petty revenge review because they wouldn’t play “He was a Jazzman” at the show I went to on my thirtieth birthday. All I know is that I haven’t been this divided on an album since Against Me! put out Shape Shift with Me last year. There is one song I should hate but love. There are a couple songs I think are not terrible but are far from the best the band has ever released. And then there are one or two downright horrendous tracks. Either way, there are two possible outcomes on how I will ultimately view this album: I’ll either forget that it even exists in a couple of months or I’ll listen to it out of spite until I develop some sort of Stockholm Syndrome and end up loving it. Ask me again in six months.
For now, 3 Tim Horton’s Old Fashioned donuts out of 10 Boston Cream Donuts. Get it? Because Canadian. And subjectivity. Fuck you review over.
Yo, Vinyl Nerds: Inviting Light was pressed on: 110 classic black, 400 half oxblood, half Halloween orange with black splatter, 600 mustard inside Halloween orange, and 3,500 on solid doublemint.