Plumbiferous Media

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

Mar 22nd 2009
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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.

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