Selfish Things’ presence within the scene has only seemed to get stranger as they’ve done more. They’ve been hyped plenty lately and they’ve clearly got clout seeing as this debut full-length has features from Crown The Empire’s Andy Leo, Underøath’s Spencer Chamberlain and former Yellowcard frontman William Ryan Key, but it’s tough to see how they’ve actually gained it. After all, this is a band whose sound is little more than a modern approximation of 2000s Warped Tour emo, and a history of not executing it to a standard that stands out all that much. It creates the impression that Selfish Things are keeping something close to their chest regarding just how they’ve done so much in such a relatively short time, and Logos seems like the perfect time to reveal it, whatever that may be. Evidently the necessary pull and star power is there, and all that’s left is to put something on wax of a quality that actually justifies it.
And overall, it’s hard to say whether or not Logos actually does, but it’s a step in the right direction nonetheless. This is clearly a band in need of much more development and a wider pool of solid ideas before they’re ready to hit prime time like they’re so eager to inch towards, but there’s arguably the most definitive evidence to date on here that they could reach that point. And that ultimately leaves Selfish Things as a band still caught in the flux that’s not exactly been beneficial across the last few years, but they’re doing their best to wriggle their way out of it, and that’s an effort that can at least be commended.
What’s more, in more ways than one, it’s not like Selfish Things are immune from being given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their vision and how they implement it. The ripples of the emo and post-hardcore in their line of sight are strong throughout, and on those merits, Alex Biro’s emotional-bordering-on-melodramatic content feels perfectly acceptable in that context. If nothing else, there’s a bit more literate intent to paeans on feeling lost on Synaptic or feeling in love on Mind, but the more personal angle taken on a track like Blood about Biro’s dying grandmother, it works perfectly well for what it’s trying to do. And yes, it’s not hard to see some of the mawkishness or over-emoting, particularly when a fairly significant number of these tracks are the slower, balladic cuts that tend to suffer the worst from this, but it’s hard to complain too much, at least when it does feel like the intent is genuine.
But like with a lot of Selfish Things’ work in the past, Logos is a lot less stable in its execution, although, again, the improvements do stand out on their own. Biro’s vocals are a fairly large point here, as they’ve opened up a bit more from the crushed, restrictive nasalness that’s still present on a track like Flood, but have been repainted with shades of Gerard Way on a track like Crutch that feels far more natural and in touch with the size that Selfish Things’ brand of emo hinges on. It’s good to have that added presence when none of the guest vocalists contribute anything of worth (especially Andy Leo on Flood who might as well not even be there), but that’s indicative of Logos’ biggest problem overall – the amount of potential that doesn’t feel lived up to whatsoever. It’s less of a problem in terms of Selfish Things’ base sound now that they’ve sharpened it up to have more directness (alongside a production style with some sharper edges which is always appreciated), but there’s so little flow that actually connects, even if it’s relatively easy to see how Selfish Things’ could achieve it. They’re not bad at piano ballads or softer moments, but having four tracks like that split into two pairs at intervals that don’t need slowing down simply feels like sloppy album sequencing, and that can leave a considerable dent in how well this album works overall. The ideas are solid and perfectly easy to get onboard with, but Selfish Things’ struggle to execute them in a way that does much for them, and that sets a pretty solid cap on how far this album can really go.
That’s a shame too, because in almost every other aspect, Logos feels as though there’s been progress made that could see Selfish Things take considerable steps to breaking into the scene. It’s just unfortunate that so many small shortcomings pile up in a way that’s not flattering, and does hurt the album experience as a whole when what could’ve been here is swapped out for something lesser overall. It’s not like it’s totally awful though, and enough forward momentum has been gained to give Selfish Things a serious shot at hitting those high peaks. They still need to break away from a few careless mistakes that are holding it back, but Logos is easily their strongest and most competent piece of work to date, and that’s something worth paying attention to.
For fans of: My Chemical Romance, Yellowcard, Pierce The Veil
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Logos’ by Selfish Things is released on 20th September on Pure Noise Records.