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The Draft | In a Million Pieces | review | rock | Lollipop
In a Million Pieces (Epitaph)
by Tim Den
Comparing The Draft to Hot Water Music is not only going to piss a lot of people off (fans, the band, etc.), it would be a cowardly way to approach an album obviously made by men who are stoked to start over. Guitarist/vocalist Chris Wollard, bassist Jason Black, and drummer George Rebelo might've made punk history with their former outfit, but it's only more reason to give them the respect they deserve as they find a new identity for themselves with guitarist Todd Rockhill. So no, I will not bitch about how In a Million Pieces is not a new Hot Water Music album. Instead, I will accept it for what it is and judge it by its own merits.
It would be impossible for Wollard to completely alter his method of songwriting just cuz he's flying under a different banner, which means In a Million Pieces sounds a lot like the continuation of his songs from The New What Next. Think "There Are Already Roses" and "My Little Monkey Wrench," except with even less traces of hardcore roots and more straight-ahead rock. Come to think of it, In a Million Pieces can barely be classified as punk: Most of the tunes use mid-tempo power chords and big choruses to carry the weight, not breakdowns or D.I.Y. fury. Is that a bad thing? Not if you've been following Hot Water Music throughout their career. Such a move has been in the works for a long time, but only now - with Wollard's sense of hooks - is it an entire philosophy. The Draft are a rock band - no more, no less - who write anthemic songs with passionate vocals and stellar musicianship.
However, now that Wollard's muse is leading the outfit single-handedly, a sense of homogenization can be felt. A lot of songs here seem interchangeable, a problem not unusual for bands with one main songwriter. But interchangeable doesn't necessarily equal bad, as you will surely find yourself nodding along and air drumming to In a Million Pieces, track after track. A lot of good rock sounds alike, but as long as it serves the purpose of solid writing and spirit-lifting joyousness, diversity isn't utterly crucial. What I do wish the band would do, however, is try a different producer: Brian McTernan's production has gotten darker and darker with time (listen to Engine Down's last one and tell me it doesn't feel murky), to the point where the snare at times comes off as a wooden block. And come on, what's with the lame backup shouts on "Longshot"? The pronunciation of "number" ("numbuuuuuhhhh") brings to mind a frustrated Down Syndrome kid every time. Not good.
All in all, In a Million Pieces serves as a good starting-over point for a group of veterans who know how to mold infectious music out of their expert instrumental control. There's enough meat here to feed the masses as well as room for future growth, so there's no reason to not welcome The Draft into your life.