"The Wonder" of this album is found in its "Forms and Shapes." | Posted June 26, 2011
I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the case for Your Sparkling Death Cometh. The artwork felt very chilling, without crossing the border into the creepy territory. The paper DigiPak case helped too, as it gave the album a more modern feel than the traditional crystal shells. It’s worth noting that when I removed the actual disk from casing, I noticed a line of mirrored text running across the tray. Due to the spiral, it was hard to read, but after a few seconds I successfully deciphered it as “When will your love unfold your life?” This becomes slightly more interesting later on, a point which I’ll bring up later.
Once I finally stopped ogling the case and popped the disk in my computer, I was introduced to the opening track Circadian. It started out slow, with quiet background music. However, at about 55 seconds in, the song went from peacefully resting on the side of the stereo to jumping me, armed with an electric guitar. (Keep in mind that I had cranked it up to hear the quiet sound.) The track feels very fast-paced, with a large focus in instrumentalization. As usual, Jessy Ribordy’s (lead singer and Falling Up frontman) signature voice cuts straight through the song, bringing forth both a complex and at times altogether new vocabulary, with words such as “spidering.” This song departs us with a musical extro; something which these songs have more often than not.
The next track, The Wonder, opens up with the continuation of the extro from the previous track. This song is very wordy, and it only in the chorus does it feel as though the lyrics were composed with the tune in mind. The lyrics, however, are very deep, (“Electrical lungs can’t hold back a beautiful beat that’s coursing through my veins, ‘cause my heart’s a perfect wonder”) and the melody is very catchy, using bizarre-but-beautiful time signature combinations.
The following piece is entitled Blue Ghost, and was the first single released off of this album in late May. This is probably the most radio-friendly track on this album, but don’t let that fact turn you off. The song is very well thought-out, with the melody flowing with the music, creating a unique sort of harmony. The lyrics are moving, and leave no doubt as to where Falling Up’s faith lies (“Tracing lines, your flaws connect the starry skies; He is tracing lines like flashes right before your eyes. Grace comes like a thief in the night; it blooms in the weak and the blind”).
The second single from Your Sparkling Death Cometh, Diamnds (Yes, it’s actually spelled that way) trails Blue Ghost, following in a similar style as its predecessor. It also has a radio tinge to it, allowing it to feel a bit short, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as some of these tracks can tend to drag on. The lyrics are the most bluntly “Christian” of any found on this album (almost to the point of sounding cliché) with the chorus being “Through the window, I can see Your sun-lit, golden eyes; You’ve got me so caught up, oh my God.”
The next track, The Light Beam Rider, is one of the strongest on the album. It contains a touching tune which feels reminiscent of the band’s work on Captiva, with chillingly deep, spiritual lyrics (“We are no more than criminals to take what we never had/And across the night there’s some criminal who gives what we never had” and later on “No greater love comes from all we know, a Grace, like we’ve never had”).
Now here’s an interesting track. Remember when I mentioned earlier that the album cover had “When will your love unfold your life?” printed on it? Well, at the beginning of Oceans, that very line is chanted/spoken in the background very quietly. The odd part, however, is that the accompanying CD booklet omits that line from the lyrics. Falling Up seems to have done a lot of similar things over their career, so I’m glad they’ve continued this trend. Overall, Oceans is a softer song, more of a ballad, really. It feels very relaxing, with a strong emphasis on melody. The lyrics are very thoughtful, but kept very short as well (“If Your heart’s an ocean, then I will drown/Beneath the waves, there will be love”).
The seventh track on this album, Mscron (no, I have no idea what it means, either) has some of the most intricate lyrics on the album (“A man walked in the room and sat by his son “Here are the words that are meant to be spoken. This is my purpose, of these words you should know: … Remember your life, it was a brilliant color; Remember your mother, she was a glowing ember; Remember your heart, it had a perfect owner.”) The melody, however, is far from perfect, and is probably the most damaging thing score-wise I could critically find on the album. Ribordy also seems to strain his voice a bit on some of the notes. It's just painful to see this song not live up to all it could be.
The next track seems to flip the problem. Vates contains a colorful melody; very catchy and strong. The lyrics aren’t exactly weak, but they don’t make a lot of sense. (“They looked back to see if I if I was following them, but I never really left at all. And they turned back to scream that I’m the terrible one, but I just finally found my heart”). Point-in-case.
Forms and Shapes follows, holding what I would argue to be the spot for the best track on the album. The music feels very melodic, almost along the lines of Streams of Woe from Falling Up’s Fangs!, but this time with a much larger range, both instrumentally and vocally. The lyrics in-and-of themselves don’t seem too impressive when read, but when paired with the music, it creates a beautiful, unspoken harmony. Drummer Josh Shroy also gets to show off a bit more on this track, making it a personal favorite. The percussion, instruments, vocals and lyrics all flow together in one heart, creating one of Falling Up’s most thought-out, strongest songs ever. ("You're formed lovely; Mysterious lines have traced you out a beautiful life. It's poor, but resonates the sound of Falling Grace.") Jessy is also able to effectively pull off notes so high that I'd be embarrassed to even try in private.
The closing song, Slow Waves, is very short lyrically, and mostly consists of a prolonged extro. The lyrics seem to conclude the album’s story, of which Falling Up usually seems to have in all of their records. (“They had my lungs on machines; their rhythm is pumping air - I'm terrified, but I won't let my hope go. I won't let my heart keep from leaping out; it's leaping out”)
After listening to the album, I feel that Falling Up’s new future looks very bright. After they broke with their former label, BEC Recordings, and then broke up themselves, it didn’t seem like much was left for them. It didn’t help that Fangs!’ failure lost them a lot of fans. However, after this fan-funded album’s release, and what looks to be its success, the independent route may be their greatest ally now. Your Sparkling Death Cometh isn’t my favorite album of theirs from a personal standpoint, but it takes the cake artistically, being something incredibly unique and powerful.
It also brings a clear-yet-creative view of God's gift of salvation. Lyrics found in songs such as Blue Ghost, The Light Beam Rider and Mscron clearly define Falling Up’s faith and commitment to God. You can pull out lyrics from Forms and Shapes which seem to be the anthem of this album: "You're formed lovely; Mysterious lines have traced you out a beautiful life. It's poor, but resonates the sound of Falling Grace." Blue Ghost also shares the theme: "Tracing lines, your flaws connect the starry skies. He is tracing lines like flashes right before your eyes." The overall message of this album, if I were to paraphrase it, and read a bit into it some lyrics, would be that “God created you in His image, and to Him, you are beautiful. Your imperfections are perfect to Him, and He loves you, regardless of your mistakes.”
I can guarantee you that you won’t find a group anywhere near this genre that so proficiently pours out so much talent. Overall, I give this album a 9.5/10; One or two minor disappointments are dwarfed by the overarching creativity and musical talent.