So far, 2014 has been a year full of surprises in music, and the post-hardcore/nu-metal band Issues has had a busy year off the get-go with touring. What really got me into Issues wasn't the band's debut EP, Black Diamonds; it was the live performance. I was never really boppin' with Black Diamonds, but I saw the potential in it and was blown away by the band's energetic performance last summer at Warped Tour. There was just so much energy that I truly got a new respect for the band. Issues stood out from the lineup sound-wise during that long day of music and released a single song called "Hooligans" around the same time (the song didn't make it to the track list on this album which is a shame), and I was impressed with the simplicity yet creativity the band displayed with the trap, R&B, nu-metal, pop punk and metalcore influences. It was just a damn good song to jam to with your friends at the skate park.
On the band's anticipated debut self-titled album, Issues finally adds the small gems in the music that truly make the record an enjoyable listen. Although the album isn't amazing, you kind of have to take the band for what it is to really get down with this release. Michael Bohn doesn't leave his signature screaming technique, which can turn into becoming repetitive and worn. While he isn't a bad vocalist at all, I wish he could have explored the musical space a bit more. Tyler Carter steals the show vocally as his voice soars over all the tracks on this release. His voice is angelic, poppy and catchy, as he wears his pop and R&B roots on his shoulder with much pride.
Another cool feature on this album is keyboard/turntablesist Tyler "Scout" Acord with his experimental touches that are drenched on the tracks. He scratches his way through breakdowns, programs electronic blares of bliss on the choruses and really creates an "actual" atmosphere which gives Issues a standing personality. In fact, they pull a Linkin Park "Cure for the Itch" with the track "Old Dena" in which Scout showcases his impressive turntabalism skills. The guitars aren't impressive, but the breakdowns are tasteful from time to time. The bass is audible and goes very well with the grooves of the guitars which compliments the heavy sections of Issues. The production is top-notch especially with those crisp sounding drums that pound their way throughout.
Another note I would like to make on this listen is the final song, "Disappear (Remember When)." While it reminds me a lot of A Day to Remember, the final minute is a gospel chorus that makes everything about Issues finally fall into place. The album ends on an extremely high note for me with this song.
I've learned to enjoy the little things that Issues does, but this album can still be disjointed and repetitive. Some songs like "The Langdon House" and "The Settlement" begin to sound the same with their signature sounds beginning to mesh to together. That being said, those songs don't seem to flow too well with the album at all. After a couple of listens, though, I was soon able to tell the tracks apart; and while I didn't get a good first impression, Issues has gained my respect with this self-titled release.