Plumbiferous Media

When I Hit the Ground - Ace Enders and a Million Different People

Mar 22nd 2009
No Comments
When I Hit the Ground - Ace Enders and a Million Different PeopleAce Enders and a Million Different People
When I Hit the Ground
Score: 59

Ace Enders and a Mil­lion Dif­fer­ent Peo­ple isn’t Ender­s’s first musi­cal ini­tia­tive. Instead, it’s his first solo side project fol­low­ing the hia­tus of The Ear­ly Novem­ber, with whom he released 2 albums, includ­ing the con­cept album “The Moth­er, the Mechan­ic, and the Path.” Along with the “mil­lion dif­fer­ent peo­ple” indi­cat­ed by the group name, on Ender­s’s new album, he relies upon his exper­tise from his ear­li­er projects to cre­ate a sol­id (if some­what indis­tin­guish­able) new entry into the vast canyon that is rock music.

From the point when Ender­s’s vocals come in on “Rein­tro­duc­tion,” bemoan­ing his pres­ence as “a ghost,” the nature of When I Hit the Ground becomes entire­ly clear. How­ev­er, while Ender­s’s lyrics are based upon the well-trod­den rock ter­ri­to­ry of self-dep­re­ca­tion, the indul­gent past, and emo­tion­al dis­tress, his dynam­ic voice keeps the music dif­fer­ent from every oth­er track com­posed this way. Enders relies on the same radio-friend­ly meth­ods of com­po­si­tion which have served him so well with his ear­li­er work, and it’s espe­cial­ly vis­i­ble in his effort­less com­bi­na­tion of ele­ments from soft and hard rock. But as top-ten bound as Ender­s’s music seems, he’s also man­aged to keep When I Hit the Ground from becom­ing entire­ly generic.

While Ender­s’s lyrics are based on the same sorts of sub­jects as most oth­er pop-rock, Enders uses his sub­jects well. When Enders sings “And some­times all you need in life is emergency/To take time and fig­ure out what you’re doing here” on the con­tem­pla­tive “Emer­gency,” it becomes clear that the lyrics on When I Hit the Ground are deep­er than might be expect­ed on such an album. How­ev­er, it is also true that on tracks such as the slight­ly Lennon-rem­i­nis­cent “Bring Back Love,” the lyri­cal qual­i­ty is sub­stan­tial­ly low­er. Nev­er­the­less, When I Hit the Ground is com­posed of enough well-writ­ten (if some­what gener­ic) lyrics to excuse the occa­sion­al­ly mediocre writing.

Over­all, the instru­men­tals on When I Hit the Ground are sol­id. The musi­cians are clear­ly com­pe­tent, as there are, track by track, no obvi­ous musi­cal flaws. Over­all, the album could use some more musi­cal diver­si­ty, but it by no means only has one sound. In addi­tion, spe­cial praise must go to the mix­ers, who did an amaz­ing job keep­ing every­thing in check, includ­ing the omnipresent, but not over­whelm­ing, excel­lent drumming.

The album only begins to fall apart in the mesh­ing between the vocals and instru­men­tals, which often run counter to each oth­er: Enders will reach a cli­max, then the instru­men­tals, then Enders, and the instru­men­tals again. The end result is that instead of either part car­ry­ing the oth­er, the entire album starts to sub­tract from itself. This is most appar­ent on the first track, in which at the loud­est, hoars­est point for Ender, the instru­men­tals have yet to even ful­ly appear, and “Rein­tro­duc­tion” ends up sound­ing as if it were pieced togeth­er, rather than act­ing as a cohe­sive unit. Because of this prob­lem, one of the most suc­cess­ful tracks on the album is actu­al­ly the inter­lude-esque “Emer­gency,” sim­ply because the gui­tar actu­al­ly com­ple­ments the voice.

When I Hit the Ground is not a bad album, but it is hard to for­give it for main­tain­ing every­thing bad that is asso­ci­at­ed with the term “MTV Rock”: clean, but dense and indul­gent instru­men­tals, a lack of direc­tion, even when the music is tech­ni­cal­ly flaw­less, and the occa­sion­al use of odd fil­ters over the voice, when it sounds per­fect­ly decent with­out. Indeed, When I Hit the Ground is dif­fi­cult to review, not because it is hard to describe - it isn’t - but because when lis­ten­ing, you often come across the sud­den real­iza­tion that you have no idea what you were just lis­ten­ing to for the past five or ten min­utes and are forced to re-lis­ten to the pre­vi­ous few tracks, only to encounter the same prob­lem again. There is some­thing to be said for a dense, often upbeat, sta­di­um-like rock album that some­how man­ages to be soporif­ic, but that some­thing cer­tain­ly isn’t praise.

This post is tagged ,

Leave a Reply