Never Be Taken Alive
Reviewed By: Rafael Sangiovanni
It’s inevitable. No matter how hard some bands try, they just can’t help but sound like each other. But that’s not to take away from those bands because they play their music with flaring energy and passion – and they deserve respect for that.
Unfortunately, the music often becomes droningly repetitive.
That seems to be the case with Count the Stars’ Never Be Taken Alive. The record is a raw recollection of heartbreaker stories and questions of life, sung over rackety upbeat tempos blasting alongside sharply distorted guitars that jam to lively, get-up-and-jump riffs.
Again, the energy is undeniably there, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.
For example the song, “Taking It All Back” sounds like a typical fast paced pop-punk ode to an MxPx or an old Blink 182 song. It juggles stop-start rhythms and scratchy, but somehow still pleasant vocals. It still is an enjoyable listen, but when the rest of the songs follow this pattern, the originality seems to fizzle out.
There are a few gems, and oddities, on the record. “All Good Things,” the album’s final song, introduces refreshing acoustic warmth with a melancholic violin, which is truly gut wrenching as lead singer Chris Kasarjian sings: “I’ll fall into the same mistakes/ Like all good things they never last.” The power and sincerity of the emotions behind the song pour themselves onto its listeners, leaving them longing for more when it’s over.
Since the rest of the record is stuffed with lively, peppy rock tunes, when the music mellows and a church choir resounds from “Pictures,” it’s a startling surprise. For a moment, the song carries the listener away to a quiet place. Count the Stars disappears for those five minutes, but they quickly reel the listeners back by cutting the song off in midline and hopping into “My Best Mistake (No More Chances),” which is quite possibly the best song on the record.
Highly energized and chock full of that familiar pop-punk attitude, Count the Stars’ Never Be Taken Alive has great potential and it will leave you in high spirits. But it stops there. Still, giving credit where it is due, the band serves up exactly what the audience wants to hear.