Driver Side Impact - The Very Air We Breathe (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Driver Side Impact

The Very Air We Breathe (2007)


Diversity: Probably the single biggest contributor to Victory Records ability to claim the title of "#1 Independent Label." Once simply the world's #1 hardcore label, bands like Path of Resistance, Comeback Kid, and the Warriors now constitute only a small portion of the label's total output. The label can appeal to checkered ska kids seeking the sounds of Streetlight Manifesto, Catch 22, or Voodoo Glow Skulls, leather-clad, "Horns Up" metalheads into Darkest Hour and the Autumn Offering, and kilt-laden pub crawlers clogging along to the Tossers. And unfortunately, there is no shortage of bands in the more lucrative sector of Victory's roster: that of teen-scene emo rock crybabies. June, the Audition, and our new friends, Driver Side Impact.

While DSI suffers the same predictable pitfalls of their like-labeled contemporaries (obnoxiously dramatic wails, finnicky keyboard melodies, and weak imitations of hardcore), the band does seem to have a leg up via lyrics that actually read as coherent compositions instead of collections of clichés. However, this boon comes in direct opposition to the feeble vocal and musical delivery the band has chosen. In "Your Time to Shine," the album's uncredited lyricist writes malevolently, "You sold me out / You sold me an apology today / What happened to your reasons? / What happened to being here? / Be the first to answer me / Justify us with more than what you see." Yet instead of a bold, confrontational approach, lead vocalist Branden Langhals' delivery seems passive and unmoved.

Musically, the band's stab at melodic post-punk is not entirely without merit, as "The Artist" builds from a serrated guitar lead into a galloping rhythm, held down only be a slew of ridiculous electronic handclaps. It's almost like they thought, "Hey this song has potential...better snuff that out somehow." "Cowboys and Indians" comes close to mildly catchy melodies, while the atrociously titled "Walk the Plank" proves that playing the band's humdrum style sped up and energized can make for an infinitely more engaging result. And while we're on the topic of appalling song titles, a quick rundown of some of the less than masterful banners of creativity give an unfortunate but accurate representation of The Very Air We Breathe: "Our Lives in Slow Motion," "Life Like Movies," "We Are Your Own" and "Tonight...[pause] [pause] [pause]We Dance!."

Driver Side Impact: Hopelessly self-involved, formulaic, and melodramatic. Just the way the kids like it. But the kids won't stay kids forever, and likewise The Very Air We Breathe can't avoid the proverbial recycling bins of teenage youth -- a collective dump of forlorn emotion, insecurity, and half-developed vision.