The Beautiful Mistake – This Is Who You Are

Music Reviews The Beautiful Mistake
The Beautiful Mistake – This Is Who You Are

Despite the assurances of the title, this disappointing follow-up to 2002’s explosive Light A Match, For I Deserve To Burn reveals a band struggling through an identity crisis. No longer content to wade through the same turbulent waters with emo-core contemporaries like Thursday and Taking Back Sunday, The Beautiful Mistake has abandoned the anguished screaming and tightly-wound dissonance of its debut in favor of a more densely layered, atmospheric approach in the vein of Hum or Sparta. While not exactly a monumental departure, it appears enough of a broad leap to provide TBM with serious pause.

After storming out of the gate with the scintillating one-two punch of the blistering title track and its cathartic companion “Wide Eyed and Wasted,” there’s little on This Is Who You Are that doesn’t come off listless and uninspired. Sure, the requisite swelling groove guitars are all in place, as are the trademark tension/release dynamics, but there’s no push, no driving urgency to spark a much-needed fire. Deprived of his more primal utterances, frontman Josh Hagquist is left to flounder aimlessly with only his generic crooning (read: standard emo whining) to carry him through. I kept hoping TBM would find that next gear, but aside from a few fleeting moments of exhilarating acceleration, the band was stuck in neutral, cautiously trying to determine which road it should take.

As the legions of artists relegated to record store bargain bins can attest: a sophomore release is no place to meander idly or play it safe. This Is Who You Are never sinks to the plunging depths, but neither does it seek to scale majestic heights. On the topographical map of independent rock, this record is a vast rolling plain; a dull, flat, middling plateau where everything looks and feels exactly the same. And in such a featureless landscape, it’s easy to forget your way and lose track of who you are.

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