album review: into the shallows

Written by Michael Gibbs

The inaugural album from The Rare Occasions is a strong first dip into full-length projects. The LA-based alt-rock band originally from Providence, Rhode Island has proven their talent with some strong hits like “Notion” and “Aglow” but their new album Into the Shallows solidifies their songwriting talent and shows off their passionate guitar riffs. The album begins with a slower, low-energy track titled “Clover” but soon picks up with the second track titled “The Shallows.” This song describes the struggle of talking to someone who is boy-crazed over their significant other, and the loneliness that accompanies being at college during summer. While “The Shallows” doesn’t sound like it would be a very energetic song, the catchy and powerful guitar riffs elevate the track into a solid rock song with some light alt-pop undertones. The impressive guitar riffs are consistent throughout the rest of the album and can be considered one of the strongest parts of this album. The guitarist, Peter Stone, deserves praise for his technical ability found in the fair amount of complex riffs, like the ones found in “Mercy Mercy” and “Backwards.”

The songwriting of this album should also be highlighted as a key aspect. The poetic language used in these tracks tell stories filled with imagery and it pays to take a deeper look at some of the tracks. “Backwords” tells the story of someone coming to terms with the fact that the person they love is with someone else and that story is told via a conversation with themself. Various parts of the song demonstrate poetry qualities. For instance, Brian McLaughlin, guitarist and lead singer, compares the character’s realization to a devastating shipwreck because it is an event that tears his world apart. Poetic language regarding the sea is prevalent throughout the fittingly titled album. In “Shutting You Out,” McLaughlin compares ending a failing relationship to abandoning a sinking ship. However, not all of these well crafted lines relate to sea terms. Clever and haunting poetry appears all over the place and it may even take a few listens of the album to fully catch everything.

Despite the strong guitar riffs and fantastic songwriting, the album falters in a few areas. Some songs are a bit too low-energy and slightly boring like “For You” and “You Weren’t Meant to See That.” Not that these are bad songs, but they feel out of place in an album with such hard-rocking songs. While “For You” is the last song on the album and kind of works to fade the album out, “You Weren’t Meant to See That” is right in the middle. However, those lulls in the album are relatively easy to overlook when you look at the album as a whole. Stone’s excellent, hard-hitting guitar riffs matched with excellent songwriting are the high points of this album. When those highlights are accompanied by extremely fitting vocals from McLaughlin, solid bass lines from Jeremy Cohen (especially in “Posts”), and strong drums from Luke Imbush, this album becomes one that’s definitely worth checking out.

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