Ironically enough, indie rock has progressively become more and more mainstream. The growing popularity of the genre challenges upcoming artists to push the envelope and establish an independent sound that stands out against the endless number of other aspiring artists. This is easier said than done, of course, but Toronto-based band AfterpartY accepts this challenge with the 2011 release of their first album, The Army You Got.
Lead singer Kristina Bergeron is by far the highlight of the album. Bergeron shows off her vocal range as she transitions from sultry to aggressive between verses in “Tokyo Blonde”.
The tempo increases with the harshness of her voice; you can practically feel the bitterness oozing through.
AfterpartY struggles with creating great hooks; tracks like “Love Lasts Six Years” and “Strength in Magazines” start strong with a steady drum beat and assertive guitar riffs, yet as the hook appears, the appeal dissolves. Throughout the album, Bergeron’s vocals repeatedly become muddled underneath the overpowering instrumentals. The guitar, drums, and synthesizer mash together in a battle for dominance, which does much more harm than good.
“Soft City” is the first single of the album, though it appears halfway down the track list. I really wish it appeared earlier because the strength in the song could have set the tone for the entire album. The previous problems aren’t present here—the track begins with a catchy guitar riff before the singer’s voice hits hard. The drums and synths complement her vocals with particular care to not overpower her. “Soft City” is also one of the few tracks that had a hook that really got to me. The refrain is harmonious, a refreshing change from the previous tracks.
The heavy drums and guitar take precedence over Bergeron’s voice in “Hesitation Wounds”. Her words are rendered unintelligible, particularly in the hook. The synths shine in the song’s refrain, but at the expense of all the other sounds.
The album’s ending is weak, finishing with the track “Scratches in the Sky”. The song switches every verse from gentle and melodic to loud and vigorous. The song seems to attempt two different sounds, but it only seems like it can’t make up its mind on what it wants to be.
All in all, I’m left with mixed feelings. AfterpartY has a lot of potential, but the lack of a harmonious blend of sounds and the music’s overpowering of the singer’s voice hindered what could have been a great album.