Along with this positive change comes one weak spot: the slower the tracks, the more ballad-y (and more painful) the vocals. They tend towards whiney, especially in the opener, “Pageant (We Begin).” It all sounds too melodramatic, but luckily, this is NOT a constant throughout the album. (Another to avoid if you’re not into the verging on ballads is “In Dogs We Trust”.)
The more upbeat and energetic the songs are, and the less they attempt to be grandiose, the better. Take, for example, the second track “Hostages,” with has a good mix of intricate guitar work and heavy drums. The vocals are in shorter bursts and there is more shouting, and this is what works best for The Oregon Donor. The last thing the world needs is another rock band with radio-friendly vocal whines hitting the airwaves.
The constant standout feature on this record, and something they improved on greatly from their debut, is the technical mixture of the instrumentals and how well they balance that with the vocals. They are working towards a very honed skill, where the vocals intertwine so well with the music that they almost function as another instrument. The best examples of this come early on, in two of the best tracks, “Morse Code” and “I.C.B.Y.B.F.” This band is almost unstoppable when it comes to the guitar harmonies (see “Changes”) and this is so impressive that one is willing to forgive their vocal missteps (“Camera”).
This record is very much a step in the right direction for The Oregon Donor. As they move out of their awkward “nerdy” prog stage and into their more advanced adolescence, the sky is the limit, and it is hopefully a gateway to a more widespread audience.