Review: no:carrier “Broken Rainbow”

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Somewhere in the shadow of Evanescence and Seether, new artists are still emerging creating music in those bands’ style. Why? Well, I’m not really sure. But apparently there’s still a market for downtrodden lite emo metal music. Fair enough. It might not be my bag, but it’s important to consider the work being created in genres we do not normally dabble. Once in a while, we will be introduced to something that surprises us. Sadly, a listen to San Francisco industrial electro noire pop no:carrier’s LP Broken Rainbow just proved previous opinions on the genre without giving much reason to question my existing judgments.

Here we have a collection of songs that all blend into one another, similar in mood, and reeking of an overly calculated neo-goth atmosphere. I’m not doubting the band’s authenticity, but the whole angle is a little contrived. The problem is that we’ve seen this all before without anything new or additional placed in the mix. It would be really nice to see no:carrier try something innovative with this sound, but instead they just create music that fits so perfectly within the genre they clearly are so inspired by. It’s really hard to break the mold when you’re trying to fit into it so well.

Vocal duties are traded off between members, with Cynthia Wechselberger doing most of the heavy lifting vocally. Her voice is certainly nice, but paired with this type of music just feels like an Amy Lee knock-off, not that that should even be something to strive for. Well, not in 2016 anyway. If anything, her voice is the best part of these songs, and I would pay good money to hear her sing on a regular pop or dance track just to see her gain a bit more traction and not be pulled down by the depressing, dark tones of the music that backs her. Most of the music ends up feeling like a compilation of songs from Tim Burton films, or like the background noise you’d hear while shopping at the ‘edgy’ store in a shopping mall.

Clearly no:carrier has their technical skills worked out, and I do admire their skill. These songs sound slick and well constructed. This is no home DIY project, or if it was that’s even more impressive. The band has delivered a glossy sounding album here complete with flourishes of all types, adding in little sonic details to their songs at every turn, like the crunchy, distorted buzzing of “When The Rain Falls”, or the pulsating beat in their twisted cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”. That cover is probably the strongest moment of the whole album, as no:carrier is able to put their haunting stamp on a classic tune while filtering out the original version’s playfulness and trading it for a musical storm that really paints the lyrics in a new light.

There are some lovely piano moments here, some strong beats, and even moments where no:carrier attempt accessibility by having a catchy chorus. But overall, the flow of the album is so flat that it doesn’t create a narrative or an emotional wavelength that makes you interested in following. If a plain is flat for its whole duration, there’s really no stakes or reason to finish that path. I will be honest in saying that even getting to the end of this album was a feat for me.

Most of the tracks sound almost identical, starting out with some glitchy, spaced out synths, adding in some brooding, menacing vocals, and then dancing around in this dark space for a while. Lyrics are cliched as well, seeming transposed right out of a goth teenager’s Tumblr page, like on “No Heroin” (“All the sorrows you have known, are now counted for”) or “The Day I Met You” (I left you, was a sad day, I should have known it would come to pass”). I so wanted the band to challenger themselves, critique their own image in a self-aware way, or stray outside their formula, but that never came. Maybe next time.

Listen to no:carrier’s Broken Rainbow, courtesy of the band’s SoundCloud page, below, and be sure to check out no:carrier on Facebook and their official website.