By: Garviel Loken
On their debut album, Tucson's Am.Are.Is bring listeners a different experience that doesn't conform to a set musical formula. The twelve tracks of "amorous" are a virtual musical melting pot that churn together elements of punk, alternative, and a healthy dose of melody. The end result is a solid, unique album that emphatically places this band on the Arizona music scene map.
With tracks such as Weak Teeth and Spillblanket, Am.Are.Is show off their extensive punk influence, but they certainly put their own twist into the genre by throwing in melodic guitar work that gives some of their songs a poppy sound, but in a good way that avoids the pitfalls of whiny '90s pop-punk. This also applies to the vocal performances, which are occasionally reminiscent of old Glassjaw and even channel some of the brooding atmosphere of the Deftones. This clash of style and sound works perfectly for the band's material, which is never boring or predictable as a result.
Melody and song structure are definitely the greatest strengths to be found on "amorous", see tracks The Weight Is and Questions To Answers for really good examples of these two elements. The percussive attack of the drums and the nimble guitar lines form a wall of sound that is enhanced by strong vocal patterns, creating some powerful and very memorable music. This is where Am.Are.Is gain entry into the heavy music category, not due to sheer ferocity, but rather from crafting a dense set of songs that use atmosphere and sheer sound to attain the same result. Heavy comes in many forms besides death metal, folks.
If there are any gripes to be found with this record, it would have to be with the production values. While passable, one can't help but think just how much
Am.Are.Is would have benefited from stronger production and recording techniques on their debut. The overall sound is somewhat flat, lacking depth and clarity, but thankfully Am.Are.Is has very strong material that balances out the shortcomings on the recording. The future looks bright for this band and were they to record a sophomore album that keeps the powerful elements of their sound intact and added in higher quality production, they could go very far.
Final Score: 7/10