One thing that draws so many people to music is the connection they feel with it. This type of connection is unlike any other; it’s something that is hard to put into words and one that must be experienced to truly understand. The reasoning for someone’s personal link to a certain album, song, artist, or style of music could be based upon the time at which they heard the soft strum of that guitar, those unforgettable soaring vocals, or that one line that really resonated with some of their most important life experiences. Every music fan has a moment like this, and it is every song’s goal to provide someone, somewhere with that moment.
There are several albums that have sparked this type of moment for me. Each one came at a pivotal point in my life and represents that time in my mind. Tonight Alive’s new record, The Other Side, is my newest addition to that list. The album wastes no time in blasting into your eardrums, and opening track “The Ocean” does a brilliant job of setting the stage for the one-two punch of “Don’t Wish” and “Lonely Girl”, two of the most aggressive songs on the record. Much of The Other Side‘s lyrical content is far more personal than previous efforts, as shown on the title track with its fantastic radio-ready chorus: “Cause every time I ran/I ran to you/I meant it every time I said I loved you/I kiss the thought of you and I/I still regret the day that we said goodbye/And do you think of me at night?I still wish we could have made it right/But we can’t say that we never tried/I guess everything seems more clear/Here on the other side” The song shows a different, softer side of the band than on most of their material, but has all the makings of an instant fan favorite.
Following track “The Fire” wastes no time in speeding things up again, opening with a blistering guitar riff and pounding drums. It’s the most musically intense song on the album, featuring a dueling guitar battle at the end that’s sure to give anyone the most hardcore case of goosebumps. Throughout the album, there is a definite change in subject matter. Track 8, “Come Home,” is the segue into the darkness of the final four tracks. The song is a tragic display of someone not ready to give up on a failed relationship, stating that “Well if you came home/You already know/That I would be waiting/Cause I have been praying/For you to stay close/Under the light of a full moon”.
Singer Jenna McDougall has been very vocal in her lyrics about her struggle with a horrific case of eczema, namely in tracks “The Ocean” and “Bathwater.” However, the lyrics which address this are written in such a brilliantly relatable way that they could apply to any situation or struggle. The lyricism on this record blurs the line between ultra-personal and ultra-relatable in a quite masterful fashion, showcasing the massive strides forward the band has taken in their songwriting approach. Album closer, “You Don’t Owe Me Anything,” demonstrates this beautifully and is without a doubt my favorite song on this record (possibly even in the band’s entire catalog). The level of raw emotion on this record far surpasses anything Tonight Alive has ever done before and this song is the pinnacle of the higherlevel that they’ve elevated to. The chorus highlights a brilliant vocal performance with “You don’t owe me anything/Don’t hear me out, I’ll just sing/If you don’t wanna know/I understand, but just know,” leading into an extended instrumental crescendo, closing out the album.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting this record to blow me away like it did. This album came out of nowhere and damn, it’s awesome. For anyone listening to this on album on vinyl: as soon as it’s over, you’ll want to flip it right back over to the other side.
Rating: 7.5 slices out of 8