Hailing from Boston, MA, Constants is a self-described shoe-gaze/post-rock band that made an early name for themselves with a kind of wall-of-sound brand of late ’90s Brit rock. After a few albums, they decided to tweak their brand away from a metal and heavy rock orientation to focus on a more vibrant and textural sound, as their press release indicates. Their new album, Pasiflora, was born from this switch, and it’s a mess of reverb and guitar wash that sounds like one long track.
The past albums from Constants have had the convention where each song bleeds into the next, and there arent any real start-stop transitions. They broke that convention with 2010’s If Tomorrow the War by crafting straight-forward four minute rock songs, but slightly slide back into it with Pasiflora. There are normal breaks between tracks, yes, but the songs all ring similar. Lead singer Will Benoit employs a whisper vocal throughout the entire album that becomes just another reverbed instrument in a sea of drenched guitars, synths, and larger-than-life drums. All the instruments rest on the same stereo plain, creating a tidal wave of fuzz and echo that’s somewhat oppressive to the senses, especially on songs like Beautiful, which employs more grating sawtooth synth than the rest. While they’ve achieved a “more textural sound,” they overshot the mark by using too much of the same texture that just blends to white noise.
Benoits voice is a highlight on the album, however. His high tone is pleasant on tracks like the Muse-esque “1985”, but it’s also underutilized, overproduced, and too even toned. Had he given himself the chance to sit a little further forward in the mix (the album was produced by the band themselves), shaved off half of the effects, and added in a more guttural push, it could have been a great contrast to the instruments’ buzz.
Pasiflora’s flaws stem from too much production and not enough variation. If you were casually listening, you could swear the songs were even in the same key. They’re not, but its not a good sign when you have to listen to it a few times to prove that fact. In the end, Constants have created a new style and a departure from their previous efforts, but that doesnt take them very far towards winning over a broader audience.
Essential Tracks: N/A