The Silent Years Review
by Patrick Muldowney
In the beginning, The Silent Years must have traveled in separate vehicles, and maintained separate charge accounts, unless they were an upper crust ensemble. For each of the four band members, they appear to have spent this studio time competing for most instruments played, though singer Josh Epstein appears to have truly proved his ability to front with 13. Maybe one day they can tour with The Trans-Siberian Orchestra backing, but the exhaustive lists are no more than a false impression of tracks dominated by the same instruments that dominate rock.
Music has been faced with some vocal trends recently that are entirely reflected in The Silent Years. Emo has become mainstream, but the masses aren't emotive, so, rather than feeling, singers go with theatrics. Along with Emo, we are currently embracing retro singing (either 70s Classic Rock or 80s Euro Pop), of which Epstein most often reflects the Euro side, although he sometimes slips into a Jack White American melody. One of these slips is "Someone to Keep Us Warm", which, with its acoustic finger-picking, sounds much like "We're Going to Be Friends". Despite his vocal talent, Epstein is the greatest detraction and distraction from the music, whittling the listening experience down to a who's who of tone (and melody) imitation.
A few songs successfully overcome this problem. "This Town", with a reckless teenage abandon comparable to The Format, is a two-minute whirlwind. The extreme change from acoustic to Pop Punk fits the extreme mood shifts of youth, along with the indifference to destruction when it symbolizes some greater meaning. "Someday", despite its hip attempt at The Walkmen, also provides some identity for The Silent Years. Epstein and Jon Edwards play guitar lines in "Someday" that balance tension and resolution in a sonically suitable manner. This track also successfully uses one of the many instruments buried on the disc, as the harmonica carries the bridge.
The Silent Years is another example of the lack of blood and guts; the band is full of talent. If the band ever de-programs from what it thinks it should be, and figures out what it wants to be, and what it wants to say, The Silent Years will quit competing for most instruments played, and accent more for effect and craft. At this point though, The Silent Years is evidence of a talented novelty (minus unusual) act.
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