Dyeing a teddy bear’s hair black doesn’t make it metal. Neither would giving Dashboard Confessional some Marshall stacks and Slayer T-shirts, which, sadly, is basically what the Party of Helicopters do. POH have the formless song structures and whiny vocals that Dashboard fans have long used as a soundtrack to makeoutclub.com browsing and sundry other forms of self-immolation, but with a metal edge! It’s like you can join the Kiss Army but still cry and have star tattoos.
POH’s musicianship (vocals excepted) comes off pretty clean, if standard. The occasional trebly hook or math-rock rhythm keep these songs from completely driving listeners to their shotguns, but the extended melancholy metal jams in the middle of most of them could give pacifists itchy trigger fingers. Therein lies Space’s most prevalent problem: This record sounds like an endless stream of all-too-similar parts and pieces. Verse, moan, whine, solo, wail, jam, verse, verse, moan, jam, chorus (?), whine, whine, wail, whine, drum break, moan – that’s the basic structure of both of the discs which comprise this album.
Which brings up another thing: Why put a record that totals less than 40 minutes on two CDs and release it as a double disc? Probably the same reason that Dashboard releases countless EPs – these records contain too much pain for current full-length CD technology. Try burning these two discs onto one and your CD drive will lock itself in its bedroom, listening to Saves the Day for weeks at a time and writing in its online journal about how you just don’t understand and how it thinks it might want a serious relationship with you, but it’s not sure, but it will definitely ask its close guy friend about the situation next time they hang out and drink wine while watching ’80s high school movies.
At this point, looking at the lyrics seems silly: How could mere words ever express the pain of the cave from which these founts of frivolity spring? Though occasionally sublimely transcendent (“Bastard motherfucker / I hate you / I hate you twice”), POH’s lyrics sound like a high school creative writing student trying to mimic Shellac-era Steve Albini. Which, probably not coincidentally, also categorizes most of the music on this record although this is a little more metal, a little less math.
You kids can keep your POH and MOC, the grown ups will be in the other room listening to Big Black and browsing undiesonlyclub.com.