Evolution is an integral part of surviving in a music industry that remains constantly fluid and dynamic. It can go one of two ways. The one-way results in the artist changing their sound in favour of adhering to modern trends. The other way sees the artist subvert modern trends and push off in a direction that drastically alters the core nature of their sound.
Decade has taken the latter path with the release of their sophomore album Pleasantries. Their 2014 debut release Good Luck was a frantic and messy foray into pop punk. It was released at a time where the modern wave of pop punk was teetering on breaking into the mainstream market. The album was firmly root in cathartic angst while being tinged by hints of alt-rock melody.
However, their latest release Pleasantries drops this pop punk façade in favour of an alt-rock sheen. It is reflective of a time where alt-rock bands like Weezer were trying to edge out of the 90s emo scene while still maintaining much of the integral catharsis and intimacy of the genre.
Decade may have never been regarded as being part of any emo scene and their music doesn’t have the same power pop sheen as Weezer, but Pleasantries does seem to draw a lot of influence from the kind of songwriting and musical structure of early 2000s alt-rock. Jaunty choruses, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and catchy pop-rock hooks are interspersed among blistering guitar riffs, intricate guitar work and off-beat drumming. These elements are particularly noticeable on the song Wasted.
This combination of elements creates an incredibly well-layered sound. Decade uses this to transition from moments of upbeat intensity to slower, more melancholic moments of human intimacy. This is a technique that is utilised often throughout the album and is demonstrated with technical prowess on album opener Human Being.
This technique allows for a lot of creative freedom within the band’s music. It lets them explore complex emotions within their songs that adequately display the human condition such as in Aneamia or Sunbeam, but for the most part, it is used to express deep catharsis. Pleasantries is a deceptive album as like many recent releases it has a pop-rock sheen to it but hidden behind these pop-rock influences are dark lyrical themes and quite abrasive and aggressive instrumentation.
It is a trend in modern alternative music that is becoming increasingly popular which is not something to be annoyed about as we feel that it adequately reflects the emotional standpoint of the youth of today. It is music that is wrapped up in a glossy exterior but tends to be a rather chaotic mess once dissected and scrutinised. It is something that more bands need to do as it leads to much deeper catharsis when there is a juxtaposition of emotions within songs. It is something to which many younger music listeners relate and that, honestly, is your future target market if you’re an up-and-coming alt-rock band.
Standout Tracks: Peach Milk, Wasted, Can’t Figure You Out
For Fans Of: Weezer, 90s alt rock, Waterparks
Written by: Craig Roxburgh