If Against The Current’s aim is to bridge the worlds of pop and rock, they’ve not been doing badly so far. Their initial success came after having the same sort of viral online following as the Biebers and Mendeses of the world, but have spent their time touring with such pop-rock heavyweights as All Time Low and Set It Off. It would seem like uniting the two disparate worlds would be in their DNA at this point, and debut full-length In Our Bones should be the crowning achievement in their crusade.
But that’s not the case. Even measured up to the standards of pop-rock, In Our Bones is so syrupy and light. And while this is a band effort, most of the time, it feels like a solo album for frontwoman Chrissy Costanza, such is the synthetic nature of the majority of what’s on offer. Actual guitars are reduced to cameos most of the time, and strips the album of the already meagre alternative credentials it has, especially compared to last year’s great Gravity EP. While that EP was still incredibly polished and mainstream-friendly, it at least had a bit of crunch that’s been thrown away entirely here in favour of the most toothache-inducing pop. When the most pertinent comparison that can be made is to Halsey, an artist whose perceived worth is so deluded it’s almost laughable, some major overhauls have to be made.
The problem with In Our Bones isn’t that it’s poppy though; it’s that there’s so little to it. It’s stuffed to the seams with fluff, but confuses it for substance, meaning that there’s actually very little on offer of any real value. The flimsy Young & Relentless is the kind of ‘rock’ they’d use to soundtrack a Disney Channel film, while the Halsey / Chvrches hybrid Wasteland feels so tedious and devoid of interest, and Brighter is possibly the most vanilla self-esteem anthem this side of Rachel Platten’s Fight Song. And the less said about the acoustic snoozer of a title track, the better. It feels so generic all the way through, in terms of both instrumental and lyrical content. It really does hit the base of this sort of thing, with the same lyrics about empowerment, love and being yourself that these sort of bands shovel out on a daily basis.
The thing is though, when Against The Current apply themselves and be a bit more adventurous, the results are actually decent. Running With The Wild Things has a nice little groove to it thanks to its choppy guitar (even if it can feel a bit messy sometimes), Forget Me Now has a playful bounce that’s reminiscent of Katy Perry’s Roar in the best possible way, and Runaway‘s bright and breezy vibe is actually really appealing. What makes this handful of songs stand out is that they utilise both a good chorus and a good instrumental hook, whereas most only use one or the other (or in the case of awful closer Demons, neither). Because of this, the negative points remain out in the open, and the album struggles as a result. There’s an abundance of flash but a dearth of substance, which is pretty much the death knell for this album in terms of quality.
It’s a shame, because Gravity saw Against The Current as a band with so much potential. Sure, they weren’t all that original, but they had solid songs and a wide potential appeal. But In Our Bones sees the majority of that potential squandered, and has them coming out with a generic, vapid full-length that sees them fall drastically. A couple of solid moments aren’t nearly enough to save it, and ultimately In Our Bones sees Against The Current in serious danger of being swept away.
For fans of: The Summer Set, Halsey, Avril Lavigne
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘In Our Bones’ by Against The Current is out now on Fueled By Ramen.