Abolitionist - It Used to Rain (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


It Used to Rain (2011)


Following hot on the heels of a promising debut 7", Abolitionist's It Used to Rain expands both the band's range of sound and concept. While At the Level of the Ear featured the band kicking out two Jawbreaker-esque tunes covering social politics in the abstract, It Used to Rain finds the band honing in on a specific story to make a bigger point.

In the world painted by the album's lyrics, it hasn't rained in almost two years, causing the world to descend into chaos. Gas cans rattle along the streets. People machine gun each other for precious liquid. Fire rampages unrestrained. Although the album doesn't have a narrator directly, the album seems to follow a single individual as he treks through the arid wasteland, confronting others and struggling for life.

Although the album is most likely a comment on either environmentalism, or the self-annihilation of the human race, Abolitionist take a page from the early singer-songwriters and let the listener connect the dots, coming to a meaning as he or she will. Not only does this give the album a deeper, and more delicate breadth, but it also keeps the track singular as well as cohesive, avoiding the monotony and over-pronunciation found in many concept albums.

The group has pushed beyond their influences on this release, as well. Their debut had a heavy Jawbreaker mark on it. Although Blake Schwarzenbach is still a part of the mixture, the band's new production features a cleaner mix, highlighting the band's individual elements. Vocalist Dustin Herron has added a little more of a pop-punk flavor in his vocals, edging somewhat close to Dillinger Four territory. Meanwhile, while the music is energetic and snappy, it morphs from pop-punk chugging to airy, almost post-punk sketches, back down to an almost metal thud/clang. The various styles fit together, giving the album a somewhat hard but approachable modern punk feel.

Abolitionist seem to be evolving at a rapid race. In a mere four months they went from a politically-charged single to a concept album about flames and rain. They've come to a fully realized sound on this release, and surprisingly, created a deceptively tight concept album that is as snappy as it is layered. Flame on.