I See Stars – Treehouse
It’s never been a better time to be a fan of I See Stars with their latest release, Treehouse – their fifth studio album – out now on Sumerian Records. This album has a different sound from other ISS’s previous efforts, potentially due to their recent lineup change. Now a 4-man outfit, with Devin Oliver pulling double duty on vocals – both clean and “unclean” (read: screaming), and drummer Andrew Oliver switching to synths and backing vocals. The Word Alive’s Luke Holland recorded a majority of the drum parts for this latest album and the band will be using a touring drummer for the immediate future – which includes this summer’s Vans Warped Tour.
Treehouse is not as electronic/dancey as digital_renegade and it’s not as aggressive and in your face as New Demons, but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. There has been plenty of criticism about the new songs – they aren’t hard enough, there’s not enough screaming, etc – yet I feel that this album shows how they are growing and progressing as a a band, and expanding their musicianship. They’re also not afraid to experiment, which is apparent in the song “All In”. This song has a kind of hip-hop vibe to it, which was unexpected after hearing the first 3 singles that were released – “Mobbin’ Out”, “Running With Scissors”, and “Break” – but as they say in the song, We takin’ risks, yeah we all in.
There a number of themes evident throughout this album, from family issues to heartbreak, as well as dealing with – or figuring out how to deal with – the repeated acts of senseless violence that have cluttered our news feeds lately. The lyrics and vocal performances are particularly powerful throughout. From the emotional, pained screams of “Calm Snow” to “Break” declaring, there’s only so much my kind can take, as well as the following from “Everyone’s Safe in the Treehouse”, Are you alive or are you just living?.
Speaking particularly about Devin’s screaming, he has been training with a vocal coach so as not to damage his vocals cords, and the practice certainly shows. He may not be screaming all song, every song, but he does it at pivotal moments, which make the song hit that much harder.
Give this album a few spins and it will definitely grow on you, I’m appreciating each song more and more each time through. And don’t forget to check out I See Stars all summer long on the Vans Warped Tour!