Let me preface this by saying I really, really liked their previous album, The Devil, and Death, and Me. It was an album dense with a feeling of loss and yearning, but that same sense of loss proved jubilant with repeated listens. It’s an album firmly floored in the idea of being down but resolutely not out, culling what was salvageable from tragedy. Of trying desperately to move on. (Hell, that’s what I got out of it anyway.) It’s a great punk album couched in solemnity and earnestness, and I knew it was going to be a tough record to surpass. And unfortunately, I don’t quite think Settling does. It’s a strong record, but it just doesn’t have the same searing, knuckles-to-the-heart quality. I’m hoping it’ll continue to grow on me, but that quality of jubilation, of muscling through the darkness, just isn’t there this time around. It feels, to me, like it’s simply a dark, dark record. Like it’s been aptly titled. Which is fine, clearly. But I personally miss that duality, you know? Still, I’m a sucker for Anthony Huebel’s voice, and the production here is solid, the songs are succinct (something The Devil… had a bit of a problem with) and Settling remains an undoubtedly solid album. I just hope it grows on me.
–keith (Tiny Engines)