I See Stars


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Treehouse Review

by Neil Z. Yeung

For fans who refuse to be bound to any single genre, I See Stars can relate. On Treehouse, the band's fifth LP and first as a quartet, the Michigan group obliterates genre lines and combines metalcore, electronica, millennial rap, pop hooks, and emo passion into a dizzying sonic Voltron that defies definition. Much like electronicore contemporaries like Crossfaith and Woe, Is Me, they employ jagged EDM textures that maximize the brutality, the natural progression of an amalgamation toyed with by genre-neighbor heavy hitters like Skrillex and Korn on the latter's The Path of Totality or even Muse's experimentation with dubstep on The 2nd Law. The best example of this genetic splicing is "Mobbin' Out," which combines the fury of Motionless in White with cyborg bass drops. On the opposite end of the electronic spectrum, "Two Hearted" sees the band -- here composed of vocalist Devin Oliver, guitarist Brent Allen, programmer/percussionist Andrew Oliver, and bassist Jeff Valentine -- infuse their traditional post-hardcore execution with an uplifting Avicii-like brightness. Other highlights include much of the material on the stacked first half of the album -- as melodically addictive as anything by Hands Like Houses or Crown the Empire -- like "Break," "White Lies," and "Running with Scissors." The most surprising moments on an album of unexpected turns are the light, almost pretty moments -- like "Light in the Cave" and 'Everyone's Safe in the Treehouse" -- when Oliver allows his bloodied throat a second's rest and he sings like a choirboy. Similarly ear-catching is their brief toe-dip into the rap pool on "All In," which might be jarring or wholly exciting, depending on the listener. Aptly titled, it's a risky moment that echoes Drake's delivery, albeit on top of dissonant guitar stabs and wobbly dub drops. Likewise, "Portals" employs a sudden trap burst in the middle of the song, bookended by pummeling drums and big rave synths. Objectively, I See Stars get points for exploring every corner of popular music. With an open mind, there is truly something here for everyone, a satisfying exercise in fun, inventive, and fearless rock music.

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