Given a crisp sheen by Sum 41 producer Blair Calibaba, Filmmaker's full-length debut shows the band shifting gears toward a pop-oriented sound. Older fans may be disappointed by the lack of melancholy moments with vocalist Carl Johnson, who had been the gripping focal point on Break This Fall. But the "new" Filmmaker is equally successful at their stylistic change, even if they aren't as distinct. They instead sound all the world like 1993-era Goo Goo Dolls, from the dynamic hooks and chiming guitars to Johnson's clear-yet-raspy vocals. Filmmaker captures the naïve urgency of that band and injects it with a more complex and busy songwriting approach, making an audible connection between the Dolls' early work and the like-minded emo scene. Most tracks adopt this new approach, from the urgent chug of "Breathing Room" to the passionate pop/rock of "My Black Young." Johnson even writes similar lyrics, as the latter song displays with its vivid description of a life where "we grow into our father's shoes and into our father's barstools." Breaking this cycle are the heart-wrenching power ballads "Goodnight Suicide" and "The Luckiest Boy." Delicate verses and shimmering guitar work alternate with a majestic chorus carried on a bed of slow-moving distortion, while Johnson's voice exhibits a fragile and thin quality it lacks elsewhere. This is one of the few moments where the Dolls comparison isn't appropriate, and the band seems to recall their sullen and tense debut. Although neither approach is superior to the other, it is a nice reminder of what sort of emotional impact they can make. Filmmaker may recall their influences more clearly and drop some of the depressing flourishes of their first EP, but it results in a lean and powerful full-length that finds its strength in quality songwriting.
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AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano