The Dreaming might be the closest thing we’ll get as far as a Stabbing Westward reunion goes, at least for the time being—the group consists of former vocalist Christopher Hall, ex-keyboardist Walter Flakus and Johnny Haro, who temporarily filled in for drummer Andy Kubiszewski in the late ’90s. Officially forming in 2002, they released their debut full-length Etched In Blood in 2008, which was followed three years later by Puppet. Rise Again, released last month, is just the next in line.
The best way to describe the new LP is sonically huge: over-the-top synths, infectious hooks, and catchy choruses. The album consists of one addictive track after another, combining dancey, almost pop-like beats with a fierce, dark energy that lasts throughout its entirety. Rise Again is programmed perfectly, which is best illustrated through “Kisses Taste Like Death” and “Empty Promises.”
Vocals and lyrics are a huge part of what makes or breaks any record for me—that’s my inner sad hipster talking; the same one who made the somewhat regrettable yet completely sober decision to get an E.E. Cummings’ tattoo when I became legal. And while Hall’s vocal performance is on point (as usual), the lyrical content runs the risk of becoming redundant. For example, “Blink of An Eye” starts off so heavy and powerful I wondered if the stranger seated beside me would find it acceptable if I started randomly breaking things if I played them the song. But once Hall begins to cite lines like “Sitting alone while you stare at your phone” and basically reiterating the general concept of “yolo,” it begins to lose its edge. Several of the songs on the album are like this; they start out strong yet feel like they quickly get derailed.
Regardless, Rise Again makes for a compelling successor to their previous work. Many of the melodies and rhythms are so intoxicating they will pop up occasionally and get stuck in your head long after the initial listen. Better make room for them.
03. Kisses Taste Like Death
04. Empty Promises
06. Blink of An Eye
07. Still Believe
08. Throw It Away
10. Rise Again
Run Time: 41 minutes
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Check out the song “Alone” here.