Debut album from alt-rock outfit showcases a bright future.
Playing To Vapors is an alternative rock band, prizing their music for its shoegazed groove-based nature. The outfit’s debut album, Shred the Master Design, showcases the band’s ability to create power driven songs carried by a relentless, contagious energy that persists throughout their musical experimentation.
Opening with the track Machine Said Maybe, the album immediately becomes a showcase of vocals and catchy hooks. With the upbeat rhythm and intense progression, the track channels a Royal Blood or the Black Keys sound. Thanks to the raw energy, the song almost finds itself as being a fitting garage rock song due to its raucousness and ability to infect listeners with its liveliness. If this doesn’t have you subconsciously humming or tapping along, nothing will.
Moving onto Switchblade, the release takes a different tone as it evokes distinctly contrasting sounds to the other rock influenced songs. However, despite the difference in vibes, the alt-indie meets funk sound is a pleasant relief and, rather than hinder the progression of the album, has us eagerly waiting to see what other sounds the band can execute. With the Two Door Cinema Club-esque opening and the choral refrain of “I wanna be a part of something bigger”, Playing To Vapors almost embodies the millennial feeling of simultaneous joy and incompleteness. By pitting the upbeat rhythm against the juxtaposing lyrics, Switchblade is yet another track that is able to resonate with people outside of the band in a hauntingly accurate manner.
Again, demonstrating their fluid, diverse sound, Flashcamera makes use of an opening composed of synthesisers to create an air of tranquillity to counteract the previous sense of being somewhat overwhelmed. As a means of providing texture to the song, the calmness is broken by a ferocious vocal which oxymoronically acts as an awakening of sorts, showing us for a second time how the world we live in is one where peace is constantly disturbed. However, this disruption is a positive occurrence as Playing to Vapors keeps us on our toes and forces us to realise that it is not a band that will happily settle for a particular sound or failsafe recipe.
Sadly, I think the choice to end the album with the song Lydia is the record’s downfall. Despite the lyrics being rich in emotion and sentimentality, at six minutes long, the song has a tendency to come across as dragging and as having over-stayed its warm welcome. This being said, if the song were reduced to the four minute mark, the tone would shift from verging on the whiny and the obsessive to being hopelessly romantic.
In defiance of the anticlimactic ending, Shred the Master Design shows us how Playing to Vapors means serious business and deserves to be recognised. By repeatedly dipping in and out of various genres, the band sets itself apart from other musicians who find a box and stick to it. This is a band with a bright and pleasant future ahead.