I obviously cannot speak for the rest of you, but I absolutely loved the third installment of the “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy. Where things went sour was in the last half-hour of the movie, where all of the individual storylines were being tied up, and it dragged, and dragged, and dragged some more. Vanilla Sky’s Waiting For Something is the perfect musical equivalent to that situation. What bursts right out of the gate as a strong, fun pop-punk record drags on for what seems like an eternity once it hits its peak.
It’s kind of upsetting for a band that at least musically shows a wealth of potential. A wealth of potential as far as pop-punk is concerned, anyhow. As long as you don’t expect the band to pull out any speedy technical riffing or ridiculous drum fills, you’re not going to be let down. Vanilla Sky’s singer has a strong voice that defies the nasal-like stereotypes that plague a lot of the genre, and he brings to it an honesty that’s also not usually expected with similar music, but they suffer from an all too common pop-punk pitfall.
Oh, the lyrics.
Rehashed, clichéd, overdone, all of those descriptors sound about right. But for lines like "Staring at you, I die inside / Please let me breathe, you’re just killing me," there is no overlooking. They will not pass go, they will not collect two hundred dollars. They will sit on Baltic with crap. A shame for musicians that seem to be more than competent at least with instrumentation, but with words like they, any possible message is going to lose what impact it may have had. Impact also lessens with every song that this album goes on for. What starts out with a full head of steam loses all of its firepower about six or seven tracks through. The songs are simply too long, and even the added inclusion of piano, violin, and acoustic guitar spread out over a few different tracks is not able to hold the interest that’s necessary. Five minutes is simply too long for a pop-punk song. The formula is just right with the opener, “Distance,” and if that’s something that they could have kept going, the flow would have fared a ton better than it actually does.
While forty-five minutes is a stretch of a pop-punk album, the 15-minute closing track “X-mas Girl” not only takes the last winds from the sail, it takes down the entire mast. The song comes in three separate stages: pop punk, silence, and techno. I don’t know what exactly the thought process went on when they decided to include that on this album, but bad call.
Vanilla Sky have offered up if nothing else a frustrating effort. Real solid harmonies, cohesive and melodic guitar parts, and good drumming, but the intensity is lost long before the end of the album rolls around. Lack of attention to lyrics in pop-punk is something expected, but a loss of energy I’m sure was not the plan. If their next album is substantially shorted, yet improved on the groundwork laid here, we could have a solid product on our hands.