Apart - Gray Light (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Gray Light (2012)


Apart's sound fits almost too well within contemporary screamo, but if the band is simply sharing in the same pool of influences and turning out something similar, can one really fault them? Maybe, maybe not, but one has to lean towards the latter when Gray Light, their proper debut LP, comes off an enjoyable and well-done concoction of the stuff.

Gray Light spans a meager eight songs in the tradition of full-length records ranging from Born to Run to Jupiter to Japandroids' latest, Celebration Rock. Of course, the style South Carolina's Apart plays means that Gray Light is far shorter than any Americana, prog- or even elongated punk rock long-player. But these 22-plus minutes pack a decent amount of variety and ambition within their parameters nonetheless, even while they mirror their peers so well. There are the heavily jangled guitars, flailing percussive moments, erratic tempo changes and controlled fits of chaos, but it's all smoothed over with a careful shade of gray melody (really, they nailed the aesthetic in this sound). Opener "Carolina Cold" provides a perfect introduction to the band's formula, even if said "formula" is more dynamic and expansive than such a word conveys: Cello adds complementary, heartstring-tugging drama to standout "Play On, Soft Pipes;" the mesh of quiet-loud works wonders in "Sick of Sunlight;" and some sort of brass, seemingly either alto sax or trumpet, provides "Turn the Page"-style sinister-isms to closer "Dead Air" (which, in fact, ends with :48 of silence).

Overall, Mayfly Records alum Xerxes might be the most sensible parallel to draw (notably the title track), but there are a handful of other moments that resemble fellow ancillary acts. One notices shades of Pianos Become the Teeth (a couple of briefly climactic moments in in "Two Lane Blacktop" remind me a lot of the same in PBtT's "Good Times", and the vocal cadences in "Play On, Soft Pipes" are definitely familiar), Touché Amoré (again, "Two Lane Blacktop" has a pause like that of TA's "Home Away from Here", and "Play On, Soft Pipes" starts quite similarly to "The Great Repetition"), and Caravels (the deliberate, desperate, throat-searing yells above a gracefully slow-moving bed of vaguely optimistic-sounding, intertwining guitars in the bridge of "Candles and Calendars").

This might sound like accusations of plagiarism or homogenization, but they're really not. Apart is actually very good at what they do, and they carry Gray Light with an impossibly concurrent vulnerability and swagger. Definitely a really promising start, and one of the most notable emotional hardcore debuts to surface this year.

Gray Light