Senses Fail have spent the last 14 years trying their hand at keeping the emo/post-hardcore scene alive and thriving – and with good success too. The bands sound has always stuck to the patented emo style of flickering guitar lines surrounded by an ocean of vocal emotion and melody, while at the same time being self-aware enough to keep their lyrical output moving with the times.
Since their inception most of their peers have disbanded, fallen to the way side, or changed direction completely; despite this James Nielsen and co have stayed committed to the post-hardcore genre, and that commitment can be felt on new record If There Is Light, It Will Find You. Now a band in their thirties, you’d understand if Senses Fail felt it was time to broaden their horizons and try something completely new at this point.
You’ll find no such bridges being built here though, opening track ‘Double Cross’ hits with a well crafted blend of punk and alt rock with just the right level of bounce – an instant reminder to strap yourselves for an emotive, evocative journey.
Senses Fail have always sounded at their most brooding when they stick to a simplistic verse pattern before exploding into an energy draining chorus. The slow build of classic tracks like ‘Calling All Cars’ and ‘Can’t Be Saved’ puts them near the top of post-hardcore’s pillar – tracks by which the band made their name truly mean something back in 2006.
It’s not a record full of hits, there are a fair few misses here – but when Senses Fail stick to the layout they have crafted for themselves, If There Is Light, It Will Find You has some exceptional turns of pace. The two minute, punk blast of ‘Orlando And A Miscarriage’ has the perfect level of snap to it, while the closing one-two of ‘Stay What You Are’ and the title track are two terrifically crafted tales of staying true to yourself and dealing with the struggles of parenthood. There’s anthem here, there’s heartstrings being pulled here, it’s everything you could want from Senses Fail.
With that said, there are moments where the album doesn’t make its name by focusing on an enthralling chorus sing-alongs, in fact it’s in this area that parts of the record struggle the most. ‘New Jersey Makes, The World Takes’ ‘First Breath, Last Breath’ and ‘Ancient Gods’ all have a chorus that seems to be missing that… something, that zest of energy that if added could make them wholeheartedly more effective. It’s an opportunity missed too, as Senses Fail often put the work in to make the verse strike with curiosity inducing emotion before letting themselves down 45 seconds later.
If There Is Light, I Hope It Will You doesn’t find Senses Fail at their best, but it does find an experienced band still putting pen to paper on tales that you can’t help but feel a part of, the inclusive lyrical and vocal presence of Nielsen is as present as ever here. Current fans should expect to find another 4/5 tracks within the records bones to lose themselves in, but nothing that will re-ignite a genre.