Review: Playing to Vapors – Identities (2012)
Some bands write for radio. Some bands write to be different. Some write in honor of specific musical idols. And, some write for the sole purpose of creating a sonic journey. Identities is the embodiment of sonic journeys. For those following the Columbus rock scene for any length of time, they have likely come across one of the eras of a group of five friends that have been playing together since early high school. Playing to Vapors is the latest step in the journey of these guys, and hopefully they will play out the Playing to Vapors moniker as long as possible – with a release like this, they ought to be sure there is no fade out to oblivion of this entity.
So how can Playing to Vapors be described? Well for one, it’s certainly worthy of play alongside their more influential counterparts – the Mars Volta for example. The band takes cues from several progressive rock groups, old and new. Hints of other genres emerge every now and then, too. Take the closer “Fire Up Ahead” for example; a subtly funk-live bass groove is there. Dual guitars play off each other in a trance-inducing way, creating melodies that truly transport the listener to alternate dimensions. No substances needed here, folks. One gets the sense in most of the tracks that the journeys created are meant to be taken together. That is, rather than the band playing to the listener the route traveled is meant to be traveled concurrently – the band is on the journey alongside the listener, not simply guiding them. The band maintains a level of accessibility at the same time that screams professionalism. “Help Is Wrong” is a good example of of this. Luke Harris hooks us in with emotion-laden singing with just a twinge of rock-star entertainment value. The latter of the two diminishes, yielding to pure emotion in “Shy Grave (Just Another Zombie Apocalypse).” The album also flows seamlessly, complete with an effective (and by default not pointless and irritating) interlude in the middle. “Evolve” and “Beast” do what one would expect – they continue to evolve one’s perception of good music on this beast of a record. In all seriousness though, they round out the record well. I’m simply a bit speechless at this point with how to proceed in my description. It’s a good speechless, though.
Playing to Vapors have done what few bands can do – release a record after six plus years of playing together with the exact same lineup. The consistent lineup has allowed these guys to really come into their own as good songwriters, good musicians, and good producers who know their craft well. Identities is a masterpiece, and Columbus should pay attention. The guys have already headlined the growing Jammin in the Hills Festival in Indiana but bigger things should be in their future…