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This Is Who You Are

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Album Review

Upon its release in 2002, the Beautiful Mistake's Light a Match, for I Deserve to Burn endured accusations of being a bit overdramatic. And this was in spite of a post-hardcore/emo community that teemed with teary-eyed singers willing to eviscerate their hearts over crashing power chords. The chatter wasn't wrong, but TBM did temper its swirling arrangements with shards of grinding guitar, and moments of Poison the Well-style screaming desire did force their way into the vocals. Since it was those rawer elements that helped define the band's melodramatic curves, it's interesting that they've largely been dulled for This Is Who You Are, the Beautiful Mistake's ambitious sophomore effort. The interlocking harmonies of vocalist/guitarists Shawn Grover and Josh Hagquist are the emphasis here; fancy production swathes guitars in blankets of reverb and pillows of melody. With their voices soaring over the meandering instrumentation, it's difficult to locate any vestige of post-hardcore's inherent tension. This Is Who You Are also seems to be a concept album, its lyrics separating classical literature into bold exclamation point slogans. "Wings that were ours! Melted while flying!" they scream in "Walking Wounded." "Cold Hearts (For Tired Souls)" juxtaposes a few turns of strong melody with a yearning, somewhat clunky chorus dominated by the usual emo elements. "Our dreams may bleed/But the wounds are real! (Real inside!)" Florid typography and references to Renaissance art accompany this soul-baring. The high-concept packaging is very impressive, as is the band's intellectual approach. However, these layers of meaning obscure the Beautiful Mistake as a band, and This Is Who You Are as a record of music. "A Safe Place" does lock into a groove with the help of solid rhythm-section work, and the title track has its moments of compelling, guitar-driven urgency. But while the Beautiful Mistake can be proud of its heady, stylistic framework, This Is Who You Are never really finds itself musically, and doesn't diminish those mutters of the overdramatic that plagued the group's previous work.

This Is Who You Are, The Beautiful Mistake
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