Still Searching

Senses Fail

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Still Searching Review

by Corey Apar

The year 2006 found many of Senses Fail's pals taking decisive steps toward transformation. As the genre became clogged past its breaking point, everyone involved suddenly wanted to break free from an emo/screamo tag by altering their sonic approach. Consequently, it's a bit surprising that for their sophomore effort, Senses Fail has instead embraced the original sound that gained them attention in the first place; it's even more unexpected considering guitarist Heath Saraceno (of Midtown fame) is now counted in their ranks, since his experience could have easily taken the guys in a totally new direction. But this decision absolutely works out for them. Still Searching is like 2004's Let It Enfold You, but two years older -- tighter, fuller, and more honest. The focus here is more on tense emo rock with a hard pop edge than scream-bloody-murder screamo -- since there is less emphasis on screaming -- yet the music remains wholly Senses Fail. Fans will appreciate the band's rejection of a drastic makeover to instead to churn out a hugely solid set of songs blasted with fist-pumping choruses, crashing dynamics, swirling guitars, and gang vocals galore. And thankfully, the guttural shrieks are more purposefully integrated and less like crutches to fall back on. There's no denying the strength of bigger tracks like "Can't Be Saved" (though it resembles 2004's "Buried a Lie") and the invigorating title track, the latter relying heavily on rousing gang vocals, while the anguished yet calming suicide leap of "The Priest and the Matador" brings Buddy Nielsen's vulnerability to the forefront. Nielsen's lyrics are distraught throughout, but instead of killing exes (there are surprisingly few breakup songs this time around), he explores the personal. Suffering from severe anxiety surrounding this record, his agitated words overwhelmingly explore ideas of self-doubt, loss of faith, and disillusionment, to the point that when he sings "My life is better than it ever was" on "To All the Crowded Rooms," it's hard to tell if he's making a statement or trying to convince himself of such. Despite being one of its scene's bigger names, Senses Fail has still always been pretty interchangeable with the rest. But seeing as Still Searching is much stronger an album than their successful 2004 debut, it really has the potential to finally help Senses Fail stand heads above the pack if only for staying true to what it is they do best.

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