Written by M.J. Rawls
Acceptance’s “Colliding by Design” – The Sophomore Record Fans Deserve
With the bands, we love, especially if they touch a special place in our hearts and minds – we associate a myth-like admiration for them. Therefore, ten year reunions will always have a place because they transport us back to a time where a band truly kept us in the present moment. 2005’s Phantoms, Acceptance’s only album up to this point, should have been a entry point to propel the band to the likes of The Killers and such. Instead label issues and Phantoms being hindered by the Sony Rootkit controversy drove the band to a devastatingly early breakup.
As they say, absence tends to make the heart grow fonder and with a performance at 2015’s Skate and Surf, there were signs of life that the band were ready to solider on. We are in a time where a major label is not necessarily essential to a band’s success – call it up to timing, but these are perfect circumstances for the band’s revival.
Colliding By Design will be seen as a reward for Acceptance fans who were holding on to hope of the possibility of a sophomore record. The album begins with “Diagram of A Simple Man,” combining instances of acoustic guitar, electronic keys, and a melding of vocals with a soaring guitar section. The first four tracks continue along the same structure, keeping a uniformity that could be considered its own block of narrative.
The title track is special in this regard because of how the strong is built and evolves around the subject matter. In how guitarists Kaylan Cloud, and Christian McAlhaney play off each other, you feel the words of the chorus even more. “Let’s kiss before you go away/Two burning stars chasing the day.” In listening, you can visualize two lovers not being able to be together by distance.
There’s no ring rust for vocalist Jason Vena, who only seems to be revitalized from the time away from the music scene. What Colliding by Design does very well is to keep things in structure where the song seems like a constant stream of affluent consciousness. The subject matter of these songs deal with many idioms of love and finding yourself which the listener can either use personally, or can even be looked at in broader instances for the band itself.
Vena uses his voice to complement guitars, layer upon the percussion from drummer Garrett Lunceford, like its own instrument. Producer Aaron Sprinkle returns to produce the album that is very much wants to be its own entity. Acceptance could have easily made a part two of Phantoms, but instead found a line between what they have learned and what they’ve done. There are spaces within these songs where each band member has space to add their own little flavor which lead to songs like “Haunted” sounding large in nature.
“73” could be considered the song that sums up the where the band has been then and now. Beginning with a marriage of programmed drums and a hint of guitars/synthesizers. The tempo change coincides with Vena’s declaration of (“I’m Still Here.”) The album does take an up-tempo swing with the infectious track “Fire and Rain” and takes on an 80’s pop tone with the vintage “Sunset.”
We live in a world where bands like The 1975 dominate the airwaves with their own brand of alternative pop-rock. Has the world forgotten about Acceptance? Not in the slightest. Colliding By Design proves that you can breathe life into things that are meant to be when you’re ready.