Post-hardcore quintet We Never Learned To Live have returned with sophomore release ‘The Sleepwalk Transmissions’, a record that explores living in a world reliant on technology, which is not a far cry from the one we actually live in.
Alongside refining their blend of heavy guitars and weaving melody, We Never Learned To Live also add a progressive element to their structures to present an intriguing and catchy record.
Droning guitars open up ‘Permafrost’. Using a building lead melody, a sense of despair builds around the sparse and snapping snares. As the urgent and commanding vocals of Sean Mahon work in tandem with choppy guitars and driving bass lines, the energy ebbs and flows before an abrupt end.
Picking right back up with ‘Android Anaesthetist’, thick chords and furious vocals showcase the hardcore influence of the group. Amongst the seesaw vocals and clusters of drum fills, a weaving melody evolves into lush chords and bright overtones. Displaying the strength and charm of the group’s ability to transition between influences, it soon moves between punishing distortion and soft melody at ease throughout.
The melding of styles is a constant presence throughout, with not one track playing by the rulebook. Whether it’s the ambient pulses and shimmering guitars that work alongside the blast beats of ‘The Clocks’, or the frantic changes of ‘Wounds Like Wires’, each song demonstrates a dense and rich display of techniques.
As the record nears its second half, its cohesive production and structure reaches its zenith with ‘Retreat Syndrome, From The Sixth Floor’ and ‘Owari’ bleeding into one another to create a journey through the intensity and intimacy of the group. From the tense urgency of the former to the swirling collage of vocal melodies that close the latter, the group display a growth from their previous efforts.
After the surging climax of ‘Owari’, a moment’s reprieve is granted with Mahon‘s vocals leading ‘Digitails’. Economic in its presentation, layers build beneath a swimming vocal hook before furious drums drive towards bursts of distortion and bending lead notes. A re-worked composition from the previous record cycle, the track highlights the core sound of the group.
Ending with an assault of tremolo guitars, pounding drums and barked vocals, ‘Radio Silence’ delivers one last punch to the gut before winding down with a soft and mellow coda.
With a meticulously structured take on post-hardcore and an earnest emotional root, We Never Learned To Live have delivered a record in ‘The Sleepwalk Transmissions’ that is equally catchy and sprawling.
A short guy, loves all genres, still believes it’s 2005. Watches too much TV.