Senses Fail’s seventh album, If There Is Light, It Will Find You is their most commercially successful release since 2010’s The Fire. The reason why is obvious: the majority of the tracks are generic pop-punk, impossible to distinguish from the latest releases from The Story So Far, Trash Boat or Handguns.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Vocalist Buddy Nielsen and guitarist Gavin Caswell are the only members who appeared on 2015’s Pull the Thorns From Your Heart (although Caswell has switched from bass to lead guitar) and the changes have given Senses Fail a much younger – and far more relevant – sound.
This means that although the songs are structured in a standard and formulaic way, they’re still enjoyable to listen to. There’s nothing to complain about, but there’s also nothing to celebrate.
In fact, the tracks on the album that are notable are the ones that show the band returning to their roots, combining confessional lyrics with raw emotion and understated instrumental breaks.
The first instance of this appears in First Breath, Last Breath, as Nielsen tells the tale of a woman dying in childbirth, begging the listener to tell him “How the hell am I supposed to raise a daughter on my own?”. The vulnerability in his voice makes the moment extremely powerful, particularly when you consider the fact that Nielsen is drawing upon the personal experience of nearly losing his wife in childbirth. Hopefully this honesty will allow men to open up on a topic which is traditionally seen as unapproachable.
Another taboo topic is tackled in Orlando and a Miscarriage. Rather than the stripped-back sound that the title suggests, it’s a fast-paced track filled with barely controlled anger. Drawing inspiration from life once again, it’s impossible to resist shedding a tear as Nielsen addresses his unborn son, singing “I wish I could see your face, but life I guess had other plans”.
Closer If There Is Light, It Will Find You is a six-minute epic which undoubtedly deserves to be the title track. Despite its sprawling length, every second is absorbing: Nielsen’s voice is flawless, while musically it combines uplifting and melancholy aspects to sum up the shifting styles scattered throughout the record.
If you’re looking for an album unlike anything you’ve ever heard, you’ll have to keep searching. However, if you’re willing to be patient, give If There Is Light, It Will Find You a try. Trudge through the generic pop-punk to discover the treasures hidden within.