New Jersey rock trio follows up a stellar, underrated sophomore set with an album that throws most of their budding promise away.
There’s too much emo-rock in the world. What’s worse? The fact that a lot of that of these bands are absolutely terrible. New Jersey’s Tokyo Rose entered the sweepstakes in 2003 with their bland debut Reinventing a Lost Art. However, realizing that they were being lumped into the crowd, they upped their game with their 2005 release New American Saint, making an album that dared to include acoustic pop songs, duets with female singers, and a daring melodicism not typical of most emo-rock groups. It was a fantastic disc that, sadly, never found a strong audience. On the whole, the group’s do-anything attitude gets shelved for a plethora of been-there/done-that radio rockers. Oh sure, some great melodies sneak through (like the echoed riff that starts album opener "Less Than Four"), but songs like "A Pound of Silver is Worth Its Weight in Blood" and the title track are heavy on bombast even heavier with yawns. Fortunately, there’s some promise in Promise, and a late-album rally of tight songs saves the disc from being a total disaster. "Can I Change Your Mind?" has more in common with Cobra Starship’s dance-rock hybrid then their debut, but it’s a tight banger. Mid-tempo closer "Seconds Before the Crash" is a nice change of place, and certainly one of vocalist Ryan Dominguez’s better lyrical turns. Yet even these songs can’t save the rest of this drawn-out Compromise. As they say themselves in "We Can Be Best Friends Tonight": It’s one step forward and two steps back.