More and more these days, it seems like it doesn't take very long for a hardcore band to really find their sound. Granted, many of them never really last far beyond their initial recordings, but these same bands seemed to really find their voice early on.
Sinking Ships' Disconnecting could be the pinnacle of this very idea.
Frontman Danny Hesketh is the sibling of Jim Hesketh, vocalist for the now defunct Champion, and that could be one of the reasons the band has always had that comparative shadow hanging over their heads. It's safe to say that while the band is likely to find that RIYL stuck at the end of most reviews for Disconnecting (as well as Bane, Stay Gold and In My Eyes), they'll avoid any dismissals because of it this time around. The band's brand of emotional hardcore is far more progressive than any of those bands, providing a dynamic sorely missing in their peers with a guitar tone that requires chiropractic attention the nods to latter-era Turning Point are so strong, not to mention the healthy usage of briefly worded song titles and heartfelt, open lyrics.
Lyrically, the band suffers from a few blunt missteps that plagued their EP compilation, Meridian. However, it's really just 2 similarly silly moments, both occurring in the first 2 tracks: "Give Up" ("To the ones who never felt this way / Fuck the ones that never felt this way") and "Auburn" ("It was colder then (Well fuck back then)"). Otherwise, the band weaves tales of outright desperation, foregoing generic posi sloganeering and straight-edge posturing in exchange for dark suicide notes ("I can't expect you to cut loose every noose I wrap around myself" in "Comfort") and, like Modern Life Is War, small town analysis ("These open fields are an easy bed to lay down and die in"). Greyscale liner notes contribute to the melancholic effect well.
There really isn't even really a mediocre song to be found here, either. However, standouts would have to be the well written, mid-tempo reflection of "Ghost Story," the absolutely attention-grabbing breakdown of "Shadows," the excellent cameo from Shook Ones' Scott Freeman in "The Next Time I Go" (despite the horrible compression on his vocals audible on a good pair of headphones), the fake intro giving way to the absolutely raw and pounding guitars and drums in "Give Up," and the pure emotion of "Comfort." Though, the best two tracks that more or less bookend the album really shine. "Auburn" is one of the best songs the band's written yet, Hesketh frequently speeding up and slowing down his delivery during the verses, a perfect guitar tune transition to the chorus and, well, a fantastic chorus, with a bridge that hits an emotional peak and keeps the tempo driving to close it out.
But "Wait"...wow. Modern Life Is War proved for nearly an entire album's worth last year that restraint can go a long way when playing creative, melancholic hardcore punk, and Sinking Ships seemed to get the memo. A lone, perfect guitar riff separated to the right speaker initiates it, a subtle tap on the cymbals steps in momentarily, and then the drums fully kick in and the riff is duplicated. Hesketh begins to spout more proof of confusion and desperation; when he finally confesses "Trying to make some sense of a life spent searching aimlessly / When for us, this is everything," his lines suddenly start trading off with gang vocals saturated in urgency screaming "I WON'T WAIT! I WON'T WAIT FOR NOTHING!." It's a climax that quite literally lasts over a minute, with Hesketh seemingly clutching at nothing and yelling at song's end "Trying / Reaching / Breathing / But still out of breath again / Out of words again / Trying to explain everything / But I can't say anything" before it feels like his words are abruptly cut off.
And it ends.
A song that simply leaves you breathless and wanting more, leading you to realize there's nothing to fulfill this except pressing play again.
With Disconnecting, Sinking Ships have proved themselves to be one of the best, most important hardcore bands going. They take a number of chances on the album all the while taking minor cues from some of the most well-respected acts in their genre. This not only goes a long way towards making a good hardcore album a great one, but proves it may even just be the beginning of things to come.
The Next Time I Go