In the Red - Volume 2 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

In the Red

Volume 2 (2009)

Suburban Home

I've got all the respect in the world for Mike Hale as a musician, but In the Red became boring virtually overnight. The band's debut, Volume 1 was a solid collection of emotional punk rock that displayed a distinguishable maturation for Hale from his days in Gunmoll (don't take my word for it, go listen to it now). So what happened when the band was writing and recording Volume 2? Did these guys purchase a radio and start listening to all the emotionless, bland tripe played on it and say to each other, "Yeah, that sounds about right"? Don't get me wrong -- I'll always have a nostalgic place in my heart for grunge as a springboard to bigger and better things in terms of musical taste; but frankly, 'new grunge' is right up there with 'electro emo' as the last things I want to hear these days.

The tone of this review is a little more scathing than I originally intended, so allow me to clarify: Volume 2 isn't completely horrible. In fact, it's probably worlds better than anything else that passes for 'new grunge' these days. But...I just don't understand it. Artist intent always counts for something, and there's little doubt that this is the record that In the Red truly wanted to make, but it's hard to believe when the finished product sounds this uninspired and formulaic.

Volume 2 isn't completely devoid of highlights; the chorus of "Unlaced" is undeniably catchy, and the sweeping, melodic "The Drakes" is done quite well. The driving, crunchy "First Evil Twin" is about the closest In the Red comes to channeling the sound they did so well on Volume 1, and the rolling drums that anchor "Jet Breaker" are a decent change of pace from all of the slowly paced, middle-of-the-road crap that surrounds it.

For what I would assume is supposed to be a rock record, there ain't a whole lot of rockin' happening on Volume 2; other than the few standout moments I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the rest of this record dabbles in safe, middling, slow-paced balladry, replete with tired riffs and painfully conventional song structures (and there's a lot of it, too; this thing is 44 freakin' minutes long). The distanced, muffled production doesn't exactly help matters, either. This record could be a lot louder and punchier than it is, although it's obviously impossible to know if that would improve the listening experience.

Volume 2 is a complete 180 in the wrong direction for In the Red from where they were a year ago. I'm not sure anyone could've seen a regression of this magnitude coming so quickly; it's almost more shocking than it is disappointing. Or shockingly disappointing, perhaps. Keep Volume 1 and your Gunmoll records; throw out/delete this one.