Here’s the thing. Traces of You, the latest release from Germany natives Flares, wants to be edgy. It needs to be edgy. Its friends are all edgy and it wants to be like them. It’s spent so much time trying to pick between the Hawthorne Heights t-shirt or the 30 Seconds to Mars one at Hot Topic that its mom is telling it to hurry up because they have to get to the grocery store before it closes. Too real? My bad.
It also wants to be pensive and moody though. It’s much more successful in this endeavour, but there’s a catch; it falls into the trap of like-minded moody nu-prog (if that’s not already a thing I’m making it a thing) acts like Tesseract or Jared Leto’s Boys where it becomes near impossible to differentiate certain tracks from others. This isn’t helped by the fact that there is next to no variation in the vocals. Seriously. A scream, a growl, a bark, a guest vocal, a rap, a goat, something, anything. Any sort of variation would have been welcome.
Other than that, it’s actually pretty good. The production is really solid, every part comes through crystal clear. And that’s awesome, because these are some pretty tasty post-hardcore jams. Lots of harmonies with big, octave-laden twin guitar hooks and drumming that would make Travis Barker proud. And when the hooks do land, they land hard. “Imperfect by Design” slips back and forth between mid-tempo metalcore riffs and a big melodic refrain that’s tailor-made to be a crowd singalong.
“Red Letters” is another standout, and probably the best track here. It never drops its sense of urgency, has one seriously head-bangable chorus, and climaxes in a moment that’s beautiful and serene.
So, yeah. There are some very solid moments on Traces of You. And the songs are bite-sized, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get through the melodrama. But there is quite a healthy dose of melodrama. And a lot of it sounds the same.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy