Surface the Vessel

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The second solo album by former Prayer for Cleansing member Will Goodyear, now using the moniker William, Surface the Vessel is a generally agreeable example of the poppier side of emo, failed by a peculiarly awful production job. The songs are too low-key and anguished to be considered truly poppy, but William's a clever songwriter with a keen sense of dynamics. There's a lot of open space in these arrangements, but William subverts the usual quiet-quiet-loud indie rock trick by preferring not to load up on decibels, but on tracks. As a result, when the skeletal verses in "Moderate" suddenly explode into a full-band chorus, there are suddenly harmony vocals, hand percussion and rhythm guitars on top of the expected big distorted lead guitar riffs, turning a fairly standard emo tune into a compelling pop song. The problem lies in William's production and mixing, which are both unnecessarily lo-fi and squashed, making the album sound dull and lifeless even on its best songs and forcing a boring uniformity of sound onto what should be a varied and engaging set of songs. Listen past the production and Surface the Vessel shows much promise, but at times, that can be hard to do.

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