Picking out Chasing Arrows’ debut, Life On Hold, from a pile of most other pop-rock is kind of like separating the organic cheese from the usual supermarket stuff; virtually impossible, and important only when you’re with somebody who actually cares.
You’ll nod your head at the cheese expert’s attempts to explain how to discern Graham Todd’s limp angst from the rest of the choir on the market. No matter how finely tuned your ears are, you’ll check for ear wax as you fail, again and again, to divide Nate Fender’s guitars and Walter Pierce’s piano from 90 percent of material the genre has seen for the past five years. Finally, you’ll get an acute sensation of déjà vu while nodding your head to Joe Hamm’s drums. These are all symptoms of an illness known as “Utterly Forgettable Music Syndrome,” or UFMS.
Life On Hold isn’t a particularly bad album. It’s well produced, with every member completing all of the objectives of what any band in the genre would be charged with. But that’s the problem—the whole piece never tries to change any of the formatting. Instead of venturing outside of the box, it’s reinforcing the edges and taping up the sides, neatly packing its sound for shipping to audiences who will promptly forget about it after a month.
Even after four consecutive listen-throughs, I couldn’t identify one song from the next; I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Though I was listening to a CD, I couldn’t help thinking it was a record that might have broken. Won’t you help find a cure for UFMS?