Written by Carmen Mueller
Alternative rock knockout, Against the Current, have just dropped their sophomore album Past Lives. The band had released the songs “Almost Forgot”, “Strangers Again”, “Personal” and “Voices” which I had on rotation in my recent playlist, so I was highly anticipating the rest of the album. The album includes a mix of bass driven beats with a ton of electronic elements and more pop-centric styles that makes the overall album super easy to listen to and multifaceted. With a streamlined project of eleven songs, it is a great display of female driven alternative music.
The first track on the album titled “Strangers Again” plays with the idea of having to forget someone. Moody ambiance and Costanza’s charismatic voice stand out while the instruments give it a really danceable vibe. Some vocal manipulations also give it a retro feel that pops up in other parts of the album. For example, “I Like The Way” plays around with a cheery pop sound which I wouldn’t necessarily expect, but works to their strengths. It’s a piano based track that reminds me of a violin-less Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” which is always a fun time. “Almost Forgot” tells the story of almost running back to past lovers and then remembering the reasons as to why you left. The rhythm on this track is really smooth while at the same time bringing an easy dynamic with its snaps and bass driven beat.
Some tracks push the envelope when it comes to their sound; “The Fuss” and “Scream” play around with synth elements, minimal yet meticulous instruments, and really cool drums. ATC make the vocal styles in these tracks really playful and layered which gives it a fun pop sound. “P.A.T.T.” which stands for “Pretty All the Time” once again features a layered vocal in the chorus with simple guitars and piano which gives it a “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”-esque vibe. Like Cyndi Lauper’s jam, “P.A.T.T.” focuses on female empowerment; the track questions the beauty standards that women are often held up to, and challenges a love that is more genuine.
While much of the album has really joyful and danceable side, some of the more serious tracks highlight the depth of the band as lyricists. “Personal” shows Costanza dealing with loss of a friend as she sings about how their “blue eyes turn gray”. She struggles with trying to not take the loss as a personal attack while still providing a sweet backing track to accompany the message. The most rock influenced song “Voices” talks about the pressure of other people’s opinions and trying to find peace while in the public eye.
“Friendly Reminder” is a track that stresses the importance of self-care by being kind and gentle to yourself. And while this is an incredible message to spread, the following track “Come Alive” brings attention to the dark side of the mind by discussing mental illness. It’s a powerful performance by Costanza and details issues many people experience: numbness, confusion, the feeling of losing yourself, or wondering what your purpose is. The closing track is the mellowest with its 80’s inspired electronic beat and simple drums. Costanza sings about finding someone who she can fully believe in and who she can trust to be there for her. Against the Current wrap up the project on a high note that makes me really proud of this project.
Overall, I find this record a truly solid piece as a whole; every song stood out and proved their place in this project. I would definitely say that this is an incredibly pop inspired album and would become a fan favorite. Some of my favorite tracks include “Voices”, “Almost Forgot”, “The Fuss” and “Come Alive”. Check out this album and follow the band who are now finishing up their tour!