Los Angeles' Division Day is a good band. They play their
instruments well and their latest disc Beartrap Island
is a decent album. However, in this day and age, with countless
bands inundating listeners and fighting for their limited attention
span, it must be asked: Is being good and decent really enough?
Fans may argue yes or that the foursome are better than just average,
but to this humble critic who has never come in contact with their
music before, Beartrap Island was simply just an "ok"
collection of songs.
Their music strums along like a focused garage act looking to
score first place at their town's battle of the bands, with a
sound bouncing between upbeat alternative rock and old school
indie. Doesn't sound too thrilling and in all honesty it isn't.
The album starts with the title track of the disc, and it is quite
misleading. With a static-filled choir of echoed vocals, Beartrap
Island begins very strangely, but effectively lassos the listener
into the first three tracks that pump with impressive percussion,
tongue-twisting lyrics and squealing guitars. Now if the rest
of the songs were as refreshingly unique as these, then Division
Day would have a hit album on their hands.
Sadly though, once "Hurricane" rears it's boringly
slow-paced head and "Hand To The Sound" comes to lull
the listener to sleep, the album starts to decline in impressiveness.
Many of the slower tracks simply lack the excitement and passion
that the high-tempo ones capture. Too stripped-down without any
real direction, many times there is a meandering weariness that
plagues songs like "Dayenu" and "Colorguard."
Not to sound presumptuous, but these tracks feel content in their
blandness. Some bands - Broken Social Scene comes to mind
- are masters at making emotionally jarring tracks that have very
little to them. Division Day though falls flat and instead of
being powerful in their gentle emptiness, they simply get exhaustingly
And as the album pushes on, even the higher energy songs start
to falter. The intrigue created by the first few tracks begins
to wear thin. "Littleblood" and "To The Woods"
putter along like rough cuts recorded at 4 in the morning, featuring
the beginnings of decent song structures but not the polished
or even well-thought out idea of how to develop them into a complete
After all the criticism, it must be reiterated that Beartrap
Island isn't a terrible album, or even a mediocre one. It
does have moments where Division Day spark something great. But
in the dark abyss of modern day music, the occasional gleam among
the rest of the forgettable numbers may not be enough to keep
Beartrap Island distinguishable among the rest of the up-and-coming
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