Frequently straddling the line between melody and crunching riffs, Tulsa’s Outline In Color have been refining their post-hardcore sound for close to a decade. With the re-introduction of original clean vocalist Jonathan Grimes, the quintet have found a balance between roaring vocals and soaring choruses for their self-titled fourth record.
Opening with second single ‘Not Enough’, the quintet throws in all the staples of the subgenre, from finger-picked guitar passages and angular breakdowns to call-and-response vocals. By hurtling through the tried and tested techniques, the group starts the record strong and with high energy.
This approach works effectively, with tracks such as ‘Vulture’ benefitting from frenetic dynamic pace. Grimes leads a bright verse alongside chattering electronic beats and floating keys before stomping chords courtesy of CJ Cochran rip through an evolving melody.
The second verse is flipped around with screamer Trevor Tatro taking charge. Instead of providing expected appearances, he dictates the track towards a spiralling chorus. As it jumps between rolling triplets and sing-along codas, drummer Nick Taylor holds a solid backbone throughout the track.
Instead of relying on the tropes of post-hardcore, the group take deviations such as on ‘Absence Of Control’. Providing Grimes with centre stage, they utilise lingering piano chords and vocal harmonies to retain interest, and by adding nuances into the simple composition, it doesn’t grow stale, from shifting ambient textures to held vocal notes harmonising with legato strings.
Granted the record doesn’t really attempt to venture beyond the trodden path of post-hardcore, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. Taking the foundations of the genre and cramming melody into every space, the album doesn’t need to stray out of its boundaries.
That being said, after the punk influenced ‘The Stakes’ channelling a frenetic urgency, closer ‘Dissolve’ takes blues inspired leads and bouncing clean chords as its backdrop. Bounding between Grimes‘ flirting with falsetto and Tatro‘s commanding screams, the track highlights how well a good vocal performance can make all of the difference in this genre.
Again, Outline In Color don’t attempt to re-write or bend the post-hardcore blueprint, but they do deliver an offering that accentuates many of its bursting highlights throughout.