Issues – Beautiful Oblivion (Album Review)

Issues – Beautiful Oblivion
Released: October 4th 2019

Line-up:

Tyler Carter // vocals
AJ Rebollo // guitars / backup vocals
Sky Accord // bass
Josh Manuel // drums

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US band Issues have been killing it in the post-hardcore game since their 2014 debut self-titled release, bridging the border between pop, hip hop and rock. Their heavy riffing combined with vocalist Tyler Carter’s soulful pop voice has definitely garnered interest from many, therefore forming a constantly growing legion of fans. 2016’s Headspace definitely provided more of that RNB-infused rock, and I was super keen to hear what they’d do with album #3 after kicking out vocalist Michael Bohn last year. I was curious to see if they’d change up their sound massively, choosing between heavier styles and pop. But from what we’ve heard so far, it doesn’t sound like Issues have ventured far from their sound on their latest release, Beautiful Oblivion.

The first track ‘Here’s To You’ begins with a soft synth intro and gives off a bit of a tropical alt-pop vibe. But with Tyler Carter’s soulful vocals leading the way, the guitars kick in one minute later and the line “I might have fucked up today / But I’m too fucked up to care” carries this track into a post-breakup song. ‘Drink About It’ features a groovy pop chorus with Issues’ signature heavy tone, and this track definitely reminds me of their self-titled release. Tyler’s vocals on ‘Find Forever’ are so reminiscent of Bruno Mars (and vaguely of Set It Off’s Cody Carson), which makes this an upbeat heavy pop track. This is catchy as fuck, and an instant bop, with the gospel-inspired choir gang vocals adding to the fun on this song.

Beautiful Oblivion is the record which sees the band tapping into their inner pop selves, even though lead single ‘Tapping Out’ definitely has one of the heavier intros and riffs. OG Issues fans will (if they haven’t already) dig this tune. ‘Without You’ is undeniably pop, although you can still hear the guitar riffs continuously right throughout. After hearing ‘Rain’ for the first time, I had to press repeat on this one because this is a fucking tune. It features the catchiest chorus on the entire album (“Why the hell is it raining so much? / I’m just trying to have a good time”), and I love the metaphorical meaning on this song – “rain” refers to the negative bad vibes you’re feeling and distracting you when you’re really just trying to enjoy life. 

What Issues have always excelled at is pouring out emotions that are relatable onto songs about the end of a relationship, and ‘Downfall’ is exactly that. This track is also heavier on the guitars with the chuggier riffs involved here, and is definitely a pleaser for fans. ‘Second Best’ is a signature Issues belter that’s literally about the need to cry out for help (“The last thing I need is for someone to walk out on me / I think that I’m just second best.”), while ‘Get It Right’ revisits the band’s RNB pop avenues once again.

‘Flexin’ famously goes down in the band’s history as the most leftwing song Issues have ever creatively produced. Gone are the heavy guitars, in comes the electronic pop beats (reminiscent of Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson), and this will turn off many alternative music fans. I gotta admit, it’s a little weird at first, but if you lighten up, this song is basically the “Uptown Funk” of alternative music. Thankfully, the guitars make a comeback on ‘No Problem (Keep It Alive)’ and it’s joined by a soulful backbeat that soars into a catchy, groovy chorus. ‘Your Sake’ is the album’s only soulful ballad about not giving in to change for anyone, in a relationship.

Title track ‘Beautiful Oblivion’ feels like the perfect way to end this album. Backed by the heavy guitars once more, the lyrics sense that the band have discovered their ideal musical direction (“Symphonies in my head keep me alive / I can’t feel you now / I’m in love with the rhythm / Beautiful Oblivion”). This song also amazingly nails the emotions we all feel towards our favourite piece of music, and I think that’s what I love the most here. To quote the band here, “I think I’ve found my Cloud Nine.”

While Issues have always tried to blur the lines between different styles of music, Beautiful Oblivion now adds a distinct groove to their music. The guitars are still there, but it’s obvious that on this album the band have ventured into more alternative pop territory, and it’s worked in their favour. They’ve turned down the heaviness just a little, absolutely nailed lyrical content and pressed accelerate on more soulful beats and grooves, ultimately producing pop-infused rock choruses that are so undeniably catchy. I bet I can guarantee that you’ll find more than a few songs on this record that’ll get you bopping your head all the way to the next Issues show near you.

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Issues – Beautiful Oblivion tracklisting:

  1. Here’s To You
  2. Drink About It
  3. Find Forever
  4. Tapping Out
  5. Without You
  6. Rain
  7. Downfall
  8. Second Best
  9. Get It Right
  10. Flexin
  11. No Problem (Keep It Alive)
  12. Your Sake
  13. Beautiful Oblivion

Rating: 8/10
Beautiful Oblivion is released October 4th through Rise Records. Pre-order here.
Review by Tamara May @citylightsTAM

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