City and Colour - Little Hell (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

City and Colour

Little Hell (2011)

Vagrant / Dine Alone

Dallas Green's pedigree with Alexisonfire means nothing to me. I'm definitely not innocent of going through a metalcore phase, but I was more into bands like Converge and the Dillinger Escape Plan. Alexisonfire just never appealed to me. However, the first time I heard City and Colour's "The Death of Me", I was hooked. I tracked down everything I could find and was shocked to learn that this voice was coming from a man at least partly responsible for songs like ".44 Calliber Love Letter" and "Hey, It's Your Funeral, Mama". It's been a few years now since my first exposure to his music, and Mr. Green has finally unleashed his third full-length, Little Hell, on the listening public.

Things pick up more or less right where they left off, with opener "We Found Each Other in the Dark" not straying too far from the path that Bring Me Your Love established three years prior. However, there are a few curveballs on Little Hell. Several tracks showcase more of a rock-band vibe, as opposed to the earlier, more "singer-songwriter"-oriented material. "Fragile Bird" is a funky, dancey number with an almost Rage Against the Machine-style riff and hints at a potentially exciting new direction for the group, while "Weightless" recalls latter-day Thrice.

There are plenty of the slower, acoustic-based tracks that got Green where he is today, however. "The Grand Optimist" is a clear standout, with Green's smooth, soulful vocals sounding more confident than ever. The similarly styled "Northern Wind" is also excellent, as is closer "Hope for Now", which follows the same acoustic path until its full-band climax. It's structurally similar to something Brand New would have done on 2006's The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and makes for an epic end to a solid album.

Little Hell doesn't have a bad song on it, but a couple of the slower tracks drag on a little too long, repeating choruses perhaps once or twice too many times. That aside, this is an album with extraordinary crossover appeal. Dallas Green has a voice that could win American Idol (err...Canadian Idol?), but he can also write a song that would make the most jaded hipster nod in approval. This is another fine release from City and Colour, and one which leaves the door open for more experimentation and expansion on future works.