Static Radio NJ - We Are All Beasts (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Static Radio NJ

We Are All Beasts (2011)

Kiss Of Death

Has it really been three years since Static Radio NJ's An Evening Of Bad Decisions? It feels pretty daunting to consider all the music that has been created between then and now. Whether the band members themselves felt the weight of that bearing down while recording We Are All Beasts remains to be seen but they certainly prove nothing has been lost to the void. Making a clear departure from their Lifetime/Kid Dynamite-influenced melodic hardcore jams, they put a greater emphasis on melody and poppier song structures to make the transition into a full-blown pop-punk band. Even though it is quite a leap from anything they did before, the foundations were always there, making this seem more like a realization of things rather than an experiment.

There is an interesting '90s alternative angle to a lot of these songs that uses mid-era Samiam as an access point. It is down tempo and melancholy but manages to escape much of the funk that the post-grunge bands found themselves in. "Addict," "Between Hello And Goodbye" and "Incestuous Friends" could slide right into Clumsy or You Are Freaking Me Out. Yet, there is enough so the band isn't simply changing up one primary influence for another. When frontman Mike Santostefano still uses some of his hardcore growl on "I Might Kill" or "Incestuous Friends," you might wish for a second they'd toss in a quick hardcore rager or two just for kicks but I think it would take something away from the over all mood. Rather than anger, there is smoldering intensity that really comes though in the last minute or so of the album with a much bigger payoff in my opinion than just a collection of short and fast songs but you may disagree.

I wouldn't say it is true for the entire genre but hardcore doesn't usually lend itself to much use of vocal range, so immediately you notice Mike's change ups in delivery and his choices of melody. I can really dig on some of the subtle nods to '50s and '60s pop that come through on songs like "Lemon." The one aspect of Static Radio that I think is best served by the stylistic change is Vic Castello's bass guitar. Maybe it was the recordings of their previous albums but this is the first time I can really hear some of the fantastic work he does on the low end and it gives We Are All Beasts a warmth that serves the record's content so well.

While there are a few things to be worked out--"Just Kids" comes off as a little overbearing at nearly five minutes--I think this is probably the best thing Static Radio NJ has done so far. Even if you never liked the band before there is a chance you could really like this release. I'm really excited to see what the future has in store for Static Radio and hopefully we get to see it sooner rather than later.