When a heavy band gets more melodic, adds more clean vocals (not screaming) and claims to have "matured as a band," the results are typically unremarkable in every way. Technically, the Number Twelve Looks Like You have done pretty much all of these things, yet their new record Worse Than Alone sounds amazing.
"Given Life" begins with rhythmic, chant-like singing and then quickly switches to swiftly spoken lyrics backed by ominous bass picking and drums. The tension builds with vocalists screaming over the increasingly loud riff. The brief softer singing of the next part is bit a iffy for me, personally. It fits with the song decently but the way it's smoothly harmonized slightly annoys me. Also, one interesting thing I notice is, while I get the feeling that this song is gradually building upon itself, it still manages to change many times and doesn't lose the building tension in doing so. That is something very few bands can pull off.
"To Catch a Tiger" is an excellent example of how the Number Twelve utilize funky, jazzy riffs in their chaotic music. After some noise and lo-fi sounding guitar chords, the rest of the band kicks in and singers scream "Engine engine Number Nine, Going down Chicago line!! Engine engine off the track, do you want your money back!?" The quirky guitar work after this is technical and creative, but not overbearing. The song finishes later in a violent, dissonant breakdown painted with monstrous death metal growls and high-pitched screams.
"The Garden's All Nighters" shows just how much the Number Twelve has progressed. The song begins with a slow, melodic synth, quickly followed by clean, fast guitar chords and Justin Pedrick and Jesse Korman's typical barrage of screaming. One of the highlights of the song is when the guitarist forms a stumbling downward spiral of notes under the lines "A smell we can live with, no smell. A sound we can live with, no sound. A home we can live with, no home." The song then unexpectedly moves into a soft jazz bit with catchily sung lines like "Quick chek coffee is cooling down, and we're sweeping along the shoreline" and "Barefoot in the sand, hanging on the board walk for dear life." It becomes apparent that this song is about the band's home state, New Jersey. After a jazzy guitar solo you hear squishy sounding electronics. The amount of changes that happen in this song is amazing, and strangely, it barely feels forced or even incoherent.
"I'll Make My Own Hours" is the best closing track I've heard in a long time. It starts out angry and frantic, but then slows down to an eerie, almost Radiohead-esque melody, And then begins a slow, epic buildup with tremendous power, finally putting the album to rest with light ambient tones.
However, it's not always on point. Opener "Glory Kingdom" doesn't give me a particularly good first impression of the album. It's a loud, heavy and aggressive song with vocals that consist of enraged hollering and low-pitched growls. While I'd imagine it would bring a tremendous amount of energy to a live show, it seems to lack the technical complexity (excluding the the churning bass riff, that is) and the awkwardly unconventional song structure that has always made the Number Twelve unique.
One thing I can really appreciate about the album is how well it all fits together. All of the Number Twelve Looks Like You's other albums had plenty of astoundingly good songs on them, but this is the first one where I feel that everything fits together perfectly and drags nowhere.