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Off With Their Heads


Maybe it’s because I caught Off With Their Heads live recently and maybe it’s because on Home, their third official full-length, the theme is something that songwriter Ryan Young has been hinting at all along. Either way, the songs here are familiar and powerful and they continue to deliver in a similar vein as to the rest of their output, following 2010’s In Desolation. Things may have slowed down a touch since the early days, but the theme and tone remains the same.

The sound on Home is a bit bigger and more rounded and, yes (to answer the Epitaph questions), it is a bit better produced. None of that detracts from the overall sound that Young and crew have crafted, however, with the big choruses and resounding whoa-ohs piling on a dramatic layer that, with the production, just feels a bit more dramatic instead of gritty or, to put it another way, it complements rather than hinders. The tone is big and direct and Young holds nothing back. Hell, just read those autobiographical lyrics and don’t get a little concerned for Young’s well-being, as in “Come Find Me” when he sings, “Bear with me/I’m not a normal person.”

The only change is a little more money in the studio, some different musicians—oh, and a new recording of “Janie.” Much like In Desolation, there is a little more variety here as things get closer to ballad territory on jams like “Don’t Make Me Go” and “Stolen Away.” To be honest, it’s rather surprising that the slower songs work as well as they do. Young has learned how to project his voice over the years and he uses dynamic shifts and crescendos more that vocal prowess to reflect the more somber tone.

Not to call them happy moments, but there is some positivity buried within. “Focus on Your Own Family” drops a looking-up moment with the line “You might not see it now/ but you’re about to break through,” with a positive and energetic “whoa-oh” carrying the song. Somewhat similarly, the closer “Take Me Out” begs Young’s own question, calling out to “help me find a home” with an inquisitive tone that, while still something of a bummer, isn’t nearly so bleak in focus. The implied audience of the conversation creates a “we’re all in this together” vibe that ends the record with just a glimmer of hope. Again, whoa-ohs are used to counter.

The record doesn’t bring many surprises, other than how good this style still sounds ten years in. Instead Home illustrates that steady but subtle progression from one album to the next. Off With Their Heads keep honing their pop chops and letting the frustration roar, but the package is getting just a little tighter and more focused with each release and, for those to whom it applies, some of the sloppy charm has slipped by the wayside.

8.0 / 10Loren
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8.0 / 10

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