Album Review: Branson Hollis – The Unexpected Way Of Things

Album Review: Branson Hollis – The Unexpected Way Of Things

image“Timeless” is a word so often used in a positive sense to describe a band or an album; for instance, Refused’s ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come’ could easily be handed that moniker, as it would still sound fresh and exciting today, despite being written and recorded in 1998. However, when an album, such as French post-hardcore troupe Branson Hollis ‘The Unexpected Way Of Things’, cannot be pinned down to any particular time or era of its genre, let alone state through their music that theirs is a definitive sound of 2013, “timeless” becomes pejorative.

Branson Hollis follow in the tracks of peers of the more experimental and progressive side of post-hardcore – think Thrice, Underoath, Circa Survive and latter-day Bring Me The Horizon. Though this doesn’t directly and shamelessly rip-off the efforts of luminaries unlike others (*NB: this comment may or may not contain a pointed glare in the general direction of letlive.), it falls a long way shy of the bar set by the aforementioned, and by the end, sounds like a very ordinary, “paint-by-numbers” record. Considering the calibre of the names they’ve been associated thus far in their relatively short career; having formed in early 2009, they have toured with the likes of La Dispute, Finch, Devil Sold His Soul and Norma Jean (even getting the latter’s singer Cory Brandan to appear on ‘Maunder’s Tale’), you might expect a little more from the Parisian quintet.

There’s little particularly wrong with the tracks at hand, it’s just a very beige record. The irony of Branson Hollis naming their début album ‘The Unexpected Way Of Things’ is that the majority of moves in their arsenal have been executed before, and executed far better by other bands; thereby making the continuous flatness of this record very much expected. The mix of vocals is also constantly jarring – the juxtaposition of the hoarse and gravelly lead vocal and the sweetly-sung, Anthony Green-esque back vocals make uneasy bedfellows throughout, and the band would have benefited from choosing a singular vocal to take full spotlight, rather than having the two at loggerheads.

France may be predominantly known for its electronic music, but their heavier bands are slowly coming further and further out of the woodwork; however, if you’re expecting this to approach the level of the likes of Birds In Row, you may be sorely disappointed. ‘The Unexpected Way Of Things’ is a perfectly accomplished first album, but it’s nothing this writer hasn’t heard time and time again, and is absent of any unique attributes that can be used to nail it to this year – if you were to tell me that this came out in the latter part of the last decade, for instance, I wouldn’t blink an eye. One of my favourite pieces of advice from my grandmother is “Never trust someone with two first names for a name” (i.e. John Terry), and the opposite remains true for this band – “Never trust a band with two surnames for a name to make a record anything beyond mediocre”.

2.5/5

‘The Unexpected Way Of Things’ by Branson Hollis is out now on Back To The Wall Records.

Branson Hollis links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Ollie Connors (@olliexcore)