By Lane Moore, Contributor
[Fueled By Ramen; 2018]
Key Tracks: “Be Here Now”, “Stigmata”, “Right Here”
The pressure on people to throw away their sincerity is endlessly stacking on top of itself. Each day it seems that society is increasingly accepting of a lack of authenticity in exchange for comfort. On Beside Myself, Basement rebels against this mindset and embraces every genuine feeling they have. However, even with the significance of each message being clear, simplicity marks much of the album. While concise is usually nice, the lyrics and instrumentation feel shallow at times. Simply put, Beside Myself is the poster child of a well-produced pop-punk record.
Read more: Album Review: Basement – Promise Everything
The aforementioned feelings are presented on a platter comprised of overdrive-ridden guitar tones, fuzzy bass and drums that sit flawlessly within the mix. In addition, James Fisher’s vocals are all but void of the raspiness that once defined the band’s sound. This change has allowed for the band to move away from its nu-grunge roots and into a cleaner soundscape. A few tracks in which the fuzzed-out sound is preserved, such as “Stigmata” and “Reason For Breathing”, are featured on the record, but they are exceptions to the new Jimmy Eat World meets COMPs sound. Concerning pedalboards, effects such as delay and vibrato have entered the mix, and it is safe to say that both Alex Henery and Ronan Crix are in the Tone Zone™.
Basement has Fueled By Ramen to thank for the fantastic production on Beside Myself, as well as their “Paramorization.” Like their labelmate Paramore, Basement has cleaned up their sound and gone for tunes that are ready for massive crowds and pristine sound systems. But unlike Paramore, their lyrics and instrumentation tend to undermine the superb production.
These effects leave Beside Myself feeling like a collection of generic pop-punk songs punctuated by a few bops that stand out as first-rate. Many of the tracks are unadorned, and lyrics meant to carry great meaning often fall flat in a pool of their own simplicity. On “Keepsake”, Fisher sings “Can you put me in your pocket? / Let me be your lucky charm / I’m right here waiting / So come and use me.” While not inherently bad, this is nothing a pop-punk band has not already whined about.
There are rare moments in which each element of a song comes together seamlessly. In “New Coast”, for example, natural harmonics on guitars are bolstered by a fuzzy bassline, making a refreshing addition to the record. Furthermore, the inclusion of the ruminant acoustic tracks “Changing Lanes” and “Right Here” display Basement’s ability to live up to what their label has provided them. Fisher transforms his doubts and tribulations into thoughts like “I lost myself in the moment / Why can’t I just be here now?”
When they shaved off their rough and grungy edges, Basement lost some of the qualities that made them unique in a uniform and cliche pop-punk scene. However, the band separates itself from that cesspool by adhering to this mantra: “there is no sense in hiding from honesty.”