Debut albums are a tough lot. Sometimes bands who've self-released a few EP's try to crank out (and, in effect, stretch out) more of the same formula that came before, somehow hoping for a different result or even recapturing the magic of their first recordings. Others aim for cookie-cutter hits, and still more experiment a bit in an attempt to stand out.
In the case of Chicago's The Flips, who had already generated a stellar buzz since last year with the caustic, yet harmonious Damn You & Damn Me Too EP, we get a rare journey with A Harm Deep But Shining in several directions: Vocalist/guitarist Nick Sintos and crew are just as agitated as before, with quiet/loud dynamics bursting into audio explosions, but coupled with that is the allowance of space between Sintos' seething screams and the band's crushing distortion.
This is evidenced right from the first track, the aptly named "Intro," as well as "Racing Stripe" and the nearly nine-minute "Bees Knees." Tempos build, cymbals shimmer with enough air to breathe, and the group sound right at home taking the proper time needed to reach such memorable climaxes. The mostly acoustic "Let It Go" and the swaying "Cute" give some stunning spotlights to Sintos' harmonies with keyboardist Annette Nowacki, as well.
That's not to say the band is at all at rest. Sintos' trademark howl and Dustin Martin's guitar work are both more powerful than ever. The pummeling "God I'm Sorry" packs an emotional punch, along with "Jawbreaker" and crunch of "G-Unit," which addresses those who "play your songs for the sound of the praise." But this isn't the sound of a band with a chip on their shoulder. Their ferocious output isn't just out there to be heard, but it's the attention they get with it that then opens the listener's mind with what's actually being said.
We have a new record A Harm Deep But Shining out now: https://goo.gl/r8qx6N