Phillip Morgan ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Fresh from delivering one of the most intriguing metal albums of last year as Code Orange, frontwoman Reba Meyers, drummer Jami Morgan, and bassist Joe Goldman have taken some time off from the pummeling metalcore grooves in order to focus on their other, lesser known project: Adventures. Joined by keyboardist/vocalist Kimi Hanauer and guitarist Dom Landolina, the Pittsburgh, PA quintet have been quietly releasing EPs and touring since 2012, operating strictly as a side project whenever Code Orange was on break. But then Adventures got signed to Boston indie label Run For Cover Records in Fall 2014, later announcing they would release their debut album Supersonic Home on February 17th of the following year. Now a fully-realized project tied to Code Orange through personnel only, Adventures have created almost the complete antithesis to I am King, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Emo has never been a genre to boast a plethora of female voices (labelmates Little Big League and Pity Sex are notable exceptions), but Adventures’ debut brings us one giant step closer to narrowing the genre’s gender gap.
Totally unafraid of wearing their influences on their sleeves, Supersonic Home is chocked full of warm 90s indie rock melodies with an emo backdrop, guitars swirling through chunky distortion a la Superchunk and The Promise Ring. Adhering to pretty simple song structure throughout, the record gains a deceptively catchy, upbeat vibe most emo-leaning bands of late wouldn’t dare risk, but Adventures does it with such confidence that they can actually write infectious hooks without coming off as too poppy or generic. In fact, it helps their more angular moments to stand out even more, like the abrupt downshift in tempo during the second half of “My Marble Home” or the final anthemic refrain that springs out of left field to close “Absolution, Worth Requited.” Sure, Adventures are not the most groundbreaking band in terms of songwriting, but no one can declare these tracks uninteresting or repetitive, and they’re all much stronger tracks than any of the material on the bands’ prior few EPs. It’s an emo record that openly invites to sing along and have fun listening to it, and that, if nothing else, deserves recognition.
One of the strongest points of the band, without question, is the vocals. From the soft, gloomy “Oos” accompanying the melody in “Pure,” to the grand, thunderous final lines of lead single “Heavenly,” to the dynamic-jumping duet that dominates “Absolution, Worth Requited,” Meyers and Hanauer’s harmonies carry a beefiness that echoes through every single track. Hanauer’s low toll provides a solid foundation for Meyers’ mid-range croon to bounce off of, and it enables them to take a more dominant place in the music than many of their contemporaries. Rather than substitute the upper register for her trademark howl, Meyers actually tries for a nuanced singing approach, and with it comes a quiet, determined ferocity that Code Orange purists may never see. And even when she does falter (we do hear a little fragment of her metalcore roar toward the end of “Your Sweetness”), Hanauer is always there to boost her back up.
As much as Adventures strives (and deserves) to be judged on its own merit, it’s actually quite intriguing to see Meyers, Morgan, and Goldman perform in near direct contrast to their other project. Morgan is much less domineering from behind the drumkit, and that allows him to craft much more flexible rhythms, adding in subtle fills and quick shifts with the greatest of ease as he makes the most of his softer touch. Meanwhile, though he apparently claims he’s the least talented out of all his friends, Goldman turns in some of his most dynamic bass lines to date, still subdued but much more fluid rhythmically, especially on the tracks “My Marble Home” and “Absolution, Worth Requited.” Not that the two members from outside the Code Orange bubble are any less talented. Far from it. Landolina proves himself Meyers’ equal on the guitar, trading interloping melodies with her amidst the indie rock with needle-like precision, and while Hanauer’s keyboard tones are mostly a textural instrument, it still feels vital for the tone of the record.
Unfortunately, Meyers’ wail does have a tendency to obscure the lyrics. And in an album that relies so heavily on hooks and pop sensibilities in an indie/emo context, too much of that can make or break the record. Luckily, when the lyrics do come out, they absolutely shine. Lead single “Heavenly” in particularly boasts some of the most cryptically beautiful lines, as Meyers begs a dying loved one to stay alive with the melancholic plea, “Slow down and see the green / There’s much more here to see than you think.” The chorus of “Your Sweetness” is equally haunting, as Meyers and Hanauer map out a toxic relationship with the painfully self-aware, “The way things start always feels so inviting / But growth brings out the worst in me.”
“Tension” further delves into self destruction as it builds off the initial claim, “I only wanted you for the tension / Too thick to see her through,” by elaborating, “In the way that he comforts you / In the way that she listens to you,” showcasing jealousy at is most brutally honest. For a song that is just over two minutes long and is nearly all-hook, it conveys a pretty grim idea in its brief lifespan, but it does it so beautifully you’re likely to sing along anyway. Adventures seems to know this too, because not even the closer “Supersonic Home” takes its foot off the neck, its final lines echoing dismay masked by dry sarcasm after Meyers immediately follows up on, “The calm of not knowing / That you cared about me,” with the anguished howl of, “It’s a lovely thing to feel / So I washed it down.” Yet Adventures’ determination to keep the music upbeat helps provide counterbalance to their painfully honest lyrics, giving each song a faint glimmer of hope in spite of itself.
Some may only view Supersonic Home, and Adventures overall, as a total and unnecessary departure from the unmitigated emotional and psychological beatdown that is Code Orange, and honestly, they’re missing out. Riding on such an impressive first release, Adventures might just grow into one of the biggest emo bands of 2015, and in a genre with so few nationally recognized female voices, that’d certainly be a step in the right direction. Adventures show a great deal of promise on Supersonic Home, and we can’t wait to see where they go from here.