This Wild Life

Clouded

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    6
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With influences and roots in screamo, hardcore, and punk, Long Beach duo This Wild Life were originally conceived as a pop-punk band in the classic SoCal mode. Members Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso took their crack at playing explosive, amped-up gigs and even issued an initial EP in that style before doing an about-face and slimming down to the succinct acoustic format heard here on their Epitaph debut, Clouded. It was through the revelation of hearing Dashboard Confessional's Swiss Army Romance that the two decided they could achieve the same amount of passion and drive as before, but delivered instead with two guitars and tight harmonies. Produced by Copeland's Aaron Marsh, Clouded builds on the foundation set by the band's earlier singles like "Puppy Love" and "Take It Back," adding strings, piano, and subtle percussion to adorn this new set of songs. The distant chime of a vibraphone adds a nice austere quality to the song "History" and mellow electric guitars flesh out the crescendos on tunes like "Concrete" and "Don't Say." But, while one of the benefits of turning down the volume is drawing more attention to the lyrics, that's not always a boon in the case of a band like this, and This Wild Life really let their emo hang out. With no massive wall of sound to hide behind, much of the material on Clouded really comes across as sophomoric and bland. Their voices are strong and clean (maybe too clean) and the parts are played well enough, but when you remove the punk from pop-punk, the attitude goes with it and you'd better be sure that the material underneath is something of greater interest than these largely forgettable acoustic emo ramblings.

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