Release date: 5th March 2021
Label: Pure Noise Records
For Fans of: Dashboard Confessional, Jimmy Eat World, Thursday
After a seven-year stop gap, South Dakota four-piece The Spill Canvas return to the studio more or less intact, delivering a trim bunch of tracks in their melodic brand of emo-tinged alternative rock. Their blend of glittery syncopated riffs and soaring vocal harmonies is still present, but smoothed out and repackaged for a more mainstream audience, with lead vocalist Nick Thomas often swapping out his trademark falsettos for a grungier, more accessible snarl with varied results.
In moments, Conduit replicates the heights of records like No Really, I’m Fine, like on ‘Cost’, which nails the hefty chord progressions and melodrama that made The Spill Canvas interesting. The stomping Americana-rock of ‘Calendars’ is pleasant enough too, even if it does feel like it’s been ripped right out of 2009, and ‘Blueprints’ is a likable ode to Thomas’ mother with tasteful use of chimes and strings. But all too often the best ideas are lost in a lackluster performance. ‘Akathisia’, for example, has a potentially barn-burning main riff, but it’s played with about as much oomph as you’d put into folding laundry. Lead single ‘Darkside’ suffers similar issues, worsened by the cartoonish and downright embarrassing vocal scatting from Thomas, spitting more lyrical cliches than you can count on two hands.
Despite hitting a decent peak around the middle of the tracklist, Conduit is a mixed bag, to say the least. It might satisfy some hardcore fans but it’s unlikely to bring in any new ones. The album contains some real depth in the subjects it explores, but it’s delivered with little to no conviction and with the lyrical clunk of a C-tier red-state radio-rock band. The versatility that the band showed they had in the late ‘00s is hinted at, but is hard to find amongst the yarling, sanitary, emo-flavoured wallpaper of this record.
Reccomended Track: Cost