Paulson - All at Once (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


All at Once (2005)

One Day Savior

Unfortunately for the label, Onedaysavior seems to be a magnet for bands to release one or two albums before disbanding. Dearly Departed, Kid Brother Collective, and Superstitions of the Sky are all such casualties, but it's Paulson that's really giving the label owned by former Skycamefalling singer Christopher Tzompanakis some hope. The band's previous release, Variations hinted at something great to come, and All at Once is that hint finally coming to fruition.

Soaring, gorgeous melodies riding the atmospheric currents of the instrumentation establish an extremely strong base right from the get-go. Gone completely are the abruptly screamed vocals and heavy power chords of old; in are spacey atmospherics and delicate harmonies, and the band has truly never sounded better. This is a style that really plays off their talents, a style in which every member of the band can fully contribute to a solid product; be it through guitars, vocals, keyboard, drum or bass, it all evens out in the songwriting process.

It's their new approach to songwriting that lets the rich tones and harmonies of singer Logan Laflotte really be a force in the music, as the opener, "Voids," perfectly exemplifies. The repeated, whimsical delivery of the lines "I'm going to want you, I'm going to need you sometimes" over some twinkling keyboards is a gorgeous display, swaying back and forth between restrained and more noticeable melody, but keeping your attention in the meantime. The instrumentation is relatively simplistic as the album progresses, but at the same time, that accents the direction of the music to a tee. The guitar harmonics are laid-back and quiet, but the grooves are still present enough to really get into.

Each song presents its own unique sound while keeping each song flowing smoothly and effortlessly into the next. "Under Crowns" relies far more on Laflotte's vocals and some light keyboard work than anything, and the soaring melodies coalesce perfectly with the subtle bounce of the chord progressions. It's those tiny nuances that propel the album way past ‘decent' territory, and into being one of the years better releases. The soft, repetitious drum rolls in "Not by a Long Shot" resonate in your head through the entire track, and everything combines to create such a solid groove, such a solid rhythm that it's truly impressive. While in its reserved mode, the atmospheric beauty shines through; the more upbeat "I Knew You When" has its share of memorable hooks as well, as the perfect balance is struck between the power of the vocals and simplicity of the music backing it. Even in the few instances where the singer really lets go and wails, it never seems even the slightest bit out of character.

This album is just packed with beauty and a terrific atmospheric spirit that can't be beat. From track 1 to 10, there's not a complaint to be had.