Album Review: Cities

Review by Bailey Garno

There is a genre of music that, much like a single band or artist can captivate millions internationally, is taking over the music scene by storm. EDM has been a distinguished sound since the late 80s, however, it seems that over the past few years it has become mega musically and has lured in fanatics from all over the world. The Silent Scene, hailing from New York, NY is a new addition to this large genre. Originally playing rock under the guise of Kicking Daisies, Ben Spremulli and Duran Visek teamed up with Richie Arthur (lead vocalist and guitarist) and Jeff Maurer (drums and Music Production Center) in 2013 and have since channeled their common enthusiasm for EDM to create the unique sound that is The Silent Scene.

The boy band quartet appears to fit the four piece, two guitars, bass, and drum format on paper, but the five-track EP Cities reveals how these young artists are willing to take on the ambitious task of breaking that mold. Cities couldn’t be a more fitting title. The collection embodies the thrilling bustle of city life, and each track is also equally diverse in sound. Listening to Cities made me feel oddly nostalgic, despite the highly prevalent elements of modern dub step and techno. The reason being is that The Silent Scene is, vocally, much like the contagious pop-rock bands that peppered my middle school and early high school memories–bands like All Time Low, Metro Station, and We The Kings. These types of bands, including The Silent Scene, are partly celebrated for the lyrics they write. In tracks like “Collecting Hearts” and “Contagious,” frontrunner Richie Arthur professes some truly romantic and heartbreaking lines. These earlier tracks are some great, teenage angst anthems, uncommon in the electro-house genre.

Although the previously named tracks give evidence to the electro-house elements The Silent Scene has, it isn’t until “Electrify Me” that the band completely embraces trance and dubstep. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of EDM. However, “Electrify Me” is my favorite track off the EP. Jeff Mauer combines simple stick percussion and the synthetic sounds of the MPC to evoke some serious fist-pumping feels from fans. The chorus is especially fun, and every time Arthur utters “alive,” there is an appropriate release of sound and energy in the music that’ll make listeners dance.

The final two tracks off Cities are pretty similar in format, with a complete MPC takeover about two-thirds of the way through and choruses completely stripped of vocals. You ease into “Skyscraper” with soft electronic beats, sweeping synth sounds, and Arthur practically whispering his desires. The contrast between these mellow verses and the hyper-energetic chorus sets listeners up for that build up and climax characteristic of house music. Additionally, Maurer completely goes off with the MPC around 2:40, and it is totally wicked.

“Speechless” begins much like “Skyscraper,” but it is percussively explosive, giving The Silent Scene an edge in the punk-rock category. It’s made clear in this track that The Silent Scene is anything but silent. Rather, “Speechless” seems to be a statement piece. The boys have a lot to give, and they offer it all in this final track.

Unfortunately, the EP falls a bit short due to the maturation the boys still have to complete. The Silent Scene is undoubtedly a young group, and you can hear that their voices have a ways to go. In songs like “Contagious” especially, where the chorus is sung in a high register, the vocals can sound strained at times. Alas, we should expect something like this to improve as the boys get older and gain more experience with recording and performing.

Set for release on August 12th, “Cities” will undoubtedly be part of that back-to-campus playlist. It’s made weary-of-EDM listeners like myself turn a curious ear to this complex genre, and I can’t wait to hear more from these rising young stars.

Rating: 3/5

 Recommended Tracks:
“Electrify Me”
“Skyscraper”
“Speechless”

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