Review: The Amity Affliction – This Could Be Heartbreak
The Amity Affliction
This Could Be Heartbreak
Roadrunner / UNFD
At the end of 2015, The Amity Affliction embarked on a tour that saw them play to crowds reaching 20,000-strong. The album that made it happen was Let The Ocean Take Me – a refinement of everything the Gympie crew spent 11 years chiseling out; a breathless emotional rollercoaster pillared on wall-to-wall bangers. It was an album that deserved to reach its peak in some of Australia’s biggest arenas. It made Amity a household name the world over, and now, This Could Be Heartbreak looks to power that celebratory climb even further. What a shame, then, that LP #5 is such a crushing leap in the opposite direction.
Where its predecessor revelled in bright, clear-cut pop-mosh potency, …Heartbreak strikes from a darker angle. Its melancholy burns fervent in the wake of what could either be a relapse in frontman Joel Birch’s mental health, or a desperation to recapture a spirit that just doesn’t need to be – nor can it be – recaptured. Gone is the slither of gory optimism that …Ocean boiled under its skin, and as such, gone are the anthemic chant-along choruses destined for weeks of mental replay. There are cuts that do flash back to the Amity days of yore – “Fight My Regret”, “Note To Self”, the title track – but these often feel like a stylistic obligation; even the follow-up to Real Bad’s voicemail at the end of “Never Alone” (here capping “OMGIMY”) feels kinda… Phoned-in (heh).
But yet, Heartbreak isn’t necessarily a bad album. It’s a weak offering from a band that really need to turn heads at this point in their career – but it’s not a bad album. Paired with a chorus that harkens back to the Youngbloods era, “Some Friends” chugs on with perhaps the best rhythm lead in Amity history. “All Fucked Up” stands out as the LP’s left-of-field centrepiece: a squishy, dulcet faux-acoustic jam that sees clean vocalist (and bassist) Ahren Stringer truly shine. Met in equal measure with a key-led windup channelling Birch’s inner emo kid on “Tearing Me Apart”, the record makes way for each member to have their ‘moment’.
It’ll be interesting to see where Amity go from here – the band can remain so feverishly adamant on sticking to their tried-and-true formula, but the odds of that paying off aren’t in their favour. It can be done – “Shine On” isn’t even on the record, but it proves they still have the ability – though we’d much rather see them venture into the unknown. Y’know, as long as they don’t sacrifice any of those sweet, sweet ocean references.
Pretty much, The Amity Affliction are a day-old doughnut: still delicious, but getting stale…
The Amity Affliction / Trophy Eyes / Driven Fear / Sensaii
Fri Aug 19th – The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+) SOLD OUT
Sat Aug 20th – The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+) SOLD OUT
Fri Aug 26th – The Metro, Sydney (18+) SOLD OUT
Sat Aug 27th – The Metro, Sydney (18+) SOLD OUT
Wed Aug 31st – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+) SOLD OUT
Fri Sep 2nd – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+) SOLD OUT